The command that transforms lives…
AN INTRODUCTION TO FOLLOW ME MINISTRIES
The Ministry & Its Purpose
By John Marquez
Follow Me Ministries came into being during January-March, 2011. Our ministry purpose is to enhance the training that the risen Lord Jesus (Yeshua) the Messiah of Israel, gives to His personal Jewish and non-Jewish New Covenant disciples. We will endeavor to serve those who have received His call to this level of discipleship by providing Bible-based meditations that are meant to instruct and serve as ‘training material.’ The material will help to develop a Biblically-revealed world view that will help direct and ’garden’ these precious ones, and expedite and protect their ongoing, interactive, fruit-bearing level of relationship with our Master. We firmly believe and endorse the statement of John the Baptist (the Immerser) that the apostle John recorded in his Gospel:
“He (God’s living Word made flesh) must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 NASB.)
[Please note: unless otherwise indicated, we will use the New American Standard Bible translation as found on www.BibleGateway.com in our quotations throughout the articles posted on this website.]
We’ll strive to follow this unique ‘He must increase’ guideline. We will do whatever we can to enhance and protect the spiritual well being of serious followers of our Lord. For our Master to truly be able to increase in us…all worldly attachments that we’ve been in the habit of placing above Him, will now have to begin fading away in our personal estimation and lifestyle. The preeminence that created things once held over us, in our hearts, will have to weaken and break completely before the Majesty and Authority of our awesome Creator.
“For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our Life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in Glory.” (Colossians 3:34 Emphasis added.)
Our unique disciple calling requires us to embark on, pursue, and complete a unique, radically transforming exodus from any dependence on this world and its system we may have had originally. We’ll have to forsake our former radically independent life APART FROM OUR MASTER…so that we can be free to transition into the new state of being, living and thinking by which we draw, continuously, everything we are, have and do…not for Him…and not like Him…but… FROM HIM!
In other words, by the time we cross the ‘finish line’ of this exodus, the risen Lord will be our Eternal Life…our one and only Source for all things. By then we will be thoroughly convinced of, and able to delight in, the overwhelming Perfection, Fullness and All-Sufficiency of His precious indwelling Presence. When we are able to know Him at such a depth, our total identification with our Master will fill us with such airtight assurance that we’ll never again feel a need to rely on counterfeit ‘home made’ false god substitutes. He alone will be sufficient for us in all things and at all times.
“I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do (God’s Spirit equips and empowers me to deal with and overcome) all things through Him (the living Word of God) who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-12 Amplification and emphasis added.)
This is the ‘Boot Camp’ level of training our Master must give to each of His true Last Days disciples. So as we learn what it means… and requires…to ‘follow’ Him, we will consider and face and learn to deal with the types of challenges and needs that the realities of our times will force upon us along the way. We’ll have to learn to sharpen and intensify our focus on our Master and learn to wait upon Him to teach us His ways so that we can walk in them…under the shadow of His wings. We will have to be trained deeply and thoroughly to keep the following fact in mind at all times:
“He who abides under the shadow of our Messiah’s ‘wings’ (think of an Israelite Blood Covenant ‘tallit’, or, prayer shawl)…is never in a position to cast an independent shadow of his own.”
So, as you can well imagine, the intense pressures from the opposition we’ll receive from self-adoring, man-devised and controlled ‘world religions’, will be formidable. And the natural animosity out of which anti-Word, self-assertive, humanistic people will conspire against us, will also be formidably hostile and dangerous, intimidating and discouraging.
But the Lord whom the world around us habitually rejects, denies or ignores, will be the very One who will be living in us, to rule and do everything from within us. So at times we’ll feel torn between desiring to serve Him and embodying His indwelling Life… and feeling the need to be accepted and approved by Word-rejecting people around us, religious or otherwise. The Presence of our Master’s Resurrection Life, abiding and working from within our spirits, renders us different from, alien to, and incompatible with, the cultures and ways of the self-life world that is all around us. So we will feel tremendous inner conflict within our souls…the positive vs. negative anti-polarity tension that the Lord warned His contemporary New Covenant disciples about in Matthew’s Gospel:
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you!
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of My Name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.
“A disciple is not above his Teacher, nor a slave above his Master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like (as one with) his Teacher and the slave like (as one with) his Master. If they have called the Head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of His Household!
“Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:16-33 Amplification and emphasis added.)
The days in which we must live will be ever more perilous and challenging for everyone, to say the least. And as the Word of God and the Faith that flows out of His Truth are rabidly assailed, our personal faith will be shaken and put to extreme tests. So we need training that can effectively deepen our spiritual maturity and nourish and strengthen the roots of our abiding sense of trust in God and purify and intensify our obedience to His commands and directives. Such high stakes training will of necessity specialize in developing an invincible, living, intimate and ever-interactive relationship with our indwelling Lord, that we who are called to discipleship have the opportunity and privilege to pursue and engage in, should we choose to do it.
Turbulent dangerous times require disciples to develop a military-level focus and discipline and a unique set of Spirit-imparted and empowered faculties and skills that enable them to maintain continual interaction with their indwelling Master. He must be free to abide and operate from within us… to equip and empower us to overcome personal attacks, severe temptation, doubts, fearful dangers and painful betrayals. Therefore we must be trained to be perpetually aware of and dependent upon Him so that we can operate faithfully and fruitfully as we draw from the perfection of His Presence, amid all types of excruciating, gut-wrenching circumstances. This is the preeminent matter we will continually address and explore in this ministry. We will do it in the hope of making positive, effective, eternally beneficial contributions to the ever-advancing establishment of our Heavenly Kingdom… and the continued growth and development of our risen Lord’s Body on Earth.
Taking the World’s Pulse
No doubt you’ve noticed how brutally self-serving, fragmented, divisive, treacherous and perilous our world continually proves itself to be. Thanks to mind-boggling improvements in technology, we have a huge increase in digital ‘data banks’ and undergo a perpetual bombardment of input and ‘knowledge’ coming at us from all directions and screaming for our attention and acceptance. So we’re forced to withstand and sort through endless streams of conflicting, contradictory voices that have become an enormous ‘tsunami’ of confusion sweeping all across the world. There is so much soulish (but Spirit-less) ’knowledge’ coming at all of us that it is causing the leaders and experts of this world to falter, stumble, and fail egregiously. More and more people feel less and less certain as to the way they should go. Thus the global sense of security lessens, as the Darkness, anxiety, depression and hopelessness continue to expand and intensify.
“Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” (Daniel 12:3-5 Emphasis added.)
We also have developed ‘weapons of mass destruction’ that are evermore diabolically lethal. And increasing numbers of demented factions are emerging that are eager to get their hands on those weapons and actually use them on anyone or anything that dares to get in their way! So nowhere on this planet can anyone truly be safe or immune or exempt.
What may have seemed in earlier times to be a granite-solid foundation sustaining the world system is now, mercifully, and most painfully, being exposed and shown to be what it really is. We can finally see for ourselves that, all along, it was nothing more than a very fragile façade… continually changing, crumbling and disintegrating. And now, despite so much effort on the part of its custodians to repair, improve and perpetuate it, we can now see clearly what has always been true. The Truth is emerging… right before our eyes! More and more of mankind’s false gods are showing their true colors. Instead of leading their believers to abundant life, their lies and deceptive allurements have dragged billions into chaos, fear and hopeless neediness leading to fatal addictions, and relational carnage, abysmal poverty, multilevel destruction and chronic pain. False gods and their prophets create and perpetuate a level of existence that, at best, can only be described as, living death! The violence, terror and death culture that false teachers generate by their devious lust for power and preeminence fills the world with paranoid tyranny, control obsession, corruption, greed, maniacal treachery and myopic destructive, self-defeating competitive selfishness. This is the legacy left by the array of false gods that this fallen world continues to adore. And that world is crumbling before our eyes… if we have the spiritual eyes and integrity needed with which to see and admit what is happening.
And because virulent opposition to God’s Biblical revelation is rapidly increasing; so also is violent persecution against those who believe and love the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and who seek to obey and proclaim His Word and walk in His ways. This has led many former ‘believers’ to back down and become self-protective. And it has led to a disastrous ‘watering down’ process of the true Gospel of death to self-life and resurrection into a Spirit-given, Messiah-embodying eternal Life. Men have morphed that utterly invasive, life-transforming Gospel of Salvation into a tolerant, anything goes self improving and asserting program in which just about everyone and anything can be accepted and included. So the Gospel of Christ-crucified and risen has been changed into a man-appeasing, soothing, diabolically deceptive mind-numbing narcissistic opiate.
It is for this dawning era of the Last Days that God’s Truth needs to be restored with honed, finely tuned precision. It must be boldly proclaimed and highlighted because although this fragile, temporal world is rapidly disintegrating and changing shapes, God’s eternal Word and His Truth will never change! Therefore, today’s disciples must be trained and steeled and equipped to stand upon God’s Truth and engage the demonic enemies of His Word in an awesome arena of intense spiritual combat for the souls of men and women:
“See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on Earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from Heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.’
“This expression, ‘Yet once more,’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a Kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming Fire!” (Hebrews 12:25-29 Emphasis added.)
So Where Are the Disciples?
While all this shaking takes place, what about the multiple millions of ‘believers?’ It’s obvious that Darkness is enshrouding the world. So shouldn’t the Lord’s Light in us be getting brighter and even more obvious and heart-penetrating? Should we not be changing supernaturally and emerging into ‘City on a hill’ prominence? Yes, of course we should!
“At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Portico. But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem. And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number…” (Acts 5:12-14a)
But do you see much of that happening within you and all around you? If you don’t, is it because God is incapable or unreliable? Is it because He’s betraying us? Or could it be that there are things in us and about us that keep getting in His way… something that creates separation between us and God’s living Word, something that ‘breaks the connection’ between us… cutting us off from Almighty God’s Life, Power and everlasting Covenant Faithfulness?
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” (John 15:5-6 Emphasis added.)
As our current level of spiritual depth and Spirit-empowered authority stand… can we assume, with any integrity and honesty, that we have ‘arrived,’ that we know everything and have no further need to repent and be disciplined by our Heavenly Father so that we can truly learn and begin to mature and grow to the maximum extent possible? Can we really afford to settle for our present status quo level of world-impact? Isn’t it true that portions of Christendom have become smug, self-indulgent and self-satisfied? Isn’t it true that we continue to allow the Lord’s Body to remain divided in order to appease our personal preferences and biases? Isn’t it true that many of us keep seeking to appease the enemies of God’s Word, in order to avoid the brunt of their hostility toward our God and His living and written Word? And isn’t it true that many among us have cravenly retreated from the field of conflict entirely… and retired into silent, anonymous irrelevance?
It’s time for God to begin dealing with those in this generation who claim to love and serve Him. It’s time for us all to be pierced, penetrated and impregnated by the Resurrection Life of our Death-destroying Messiah. It’s time for us to grow and be stimulated into the farthest reaches of true spiritual regeneration…and the maturity, growth, depth, wisdom and skill true rebirth makes possible so that we can glorify God with Spirit-empowered, supernatural fruitfulness… even amid gut-wrenching adversity!
Most of the world knows about us. They have a variety of more or less incomplete or warped assumptions concerning our Faith and our claims. But why do so many of us lack Truth-validating, Spirit-empowered spiritual authority? Are we not in dire need of God’s authority and power to validate and prove the truth of our claims? But do we have it? Is it happening? Isn’t it true that the attention and interests of many among the younger generations have lost interest in God’s Word and in our Faith? Isn’t it true that the cynical, jaded, humanistic world is moving in directions that are veering further and further away from our Lord’s ‘narrow path?’ And does this situation not call for disciples who are trained and equipped to fulfill this God-given command?
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good!” (Romans 12:21 Emphasis added.)
How many ‘believers’ are actually spiritually, mentally and emotionally equipped to usher in ‘The Light of the World?’ Doesn’t it take Spirit-inflamed, God-endorsed disciples to do that… disciples who are worthy of the name? Where are they? Why are they not emerging and entering the Arena of Testimony to bring our Master’s Light and Truth into the increasing Darkness? Our current shallow, self-centered mindset and rootless condition were caused by a vacuum that has been created… a disciple vacuum. For centuries, Christendom has lost its sense of direction regarding the authentic Biblically-revealed training and development of disciples. We obviously have not understood what the Lord actually had in mind when He gave these disciple-making orders to His original Jewish disciples and apostles before ascending into Heaven:
“…All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (disciple the gentiles), baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 Emphasis added.)
We interpret this in many ways and call it ‘The Great Commission.’ But do we really grasp what the risen Lord meant when He said to His Jewish apostles: ‘disciple the pagan gentiles’ and ‘baptize‘ (immerse) them in(to) the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ and ‘teach them to observe all I commanded you,‘, and ‘I am with you always‘? Have we really taken His orders and promises to heart and carried out His orders with authentic ‘image and likeness’ disciple-level precision? Ponder His words carefully. Doesn’t it sound as if the Lord wanted to share with the whole world, the very same lifestyle He was living with those disciples who lived with Him and that He had been training before His death?
But what have we done with that? Have we not callously dismissed the Biblical commands He lived by and by which He intended to govern, train and educate the whole world? Haven’t we arrogantly severed the Gospel of Salvation from its Israelite roots and pushed the apostolic legacy aside and mislabeled and relegated God’s Biblical mandates to the status of ‘religious bondage’ or mere ’Jewish traditions?’ Are we really ready to carry out our risen Messiah’s orders for all of mankind? Or are we more interested in trying to rationalize them away and find ways to ‘wiggle’ out of our responsibility to obey our Master by inventing cute theological ‘loopholes’ that enable us to ‘exempt’ ourselves from having to carry out His orders as recorded in Scripture?
And do we really believe His promise to be with us at all times, as Lord? Do we really think, act, react and interact as if He actually, really abides with us and reigns over us and really operates through us throughout each moment of every day?
Do not most of us actually think, live and act like the proponents of the ’world religions’ that have dead founders and some sort of book? Do not most of us think, live and react to life as if we were radically independent agents, ‘exempt civilians,’ that have somehow been given the right to think and live as self-governing neutral parties who are at liberty to think, decide and fend for themselves? Many of us apparently assume that we have been somehow excused from having to take part in the awesome spiritual war between God’s Light and Satan’s Darkness that is raging all around us. But God’s Truth is that in this war, there is no such thing as an ‘exempt civilian.’ We are either on one side, or the other! So God doesn’t need converts; He requires disciples! Therefore, if we dare to call ourselves ‘believers’, we must come to grips with the reality that we are involved up to our eyeballs in this war… like it, or not!
Most of us think our risen Lord was speaking of evangelism in the above text. We assume He was thinking along the lines of the ‘Ask Jesus into your life’ and the very common, ’join a church’ convert-making, religious social club type of false gospel. But such abysmally low standards and shallow recruitment techniques with no ‘follow-up’ that are so common in our modern era have left us with myriads of confused, rootless, disenchanted lambs that to this day do not yet truly know their Shepherd nor are they ever actually able to hear His voice and serve as His true image and likeness! (See Ezekiel 34; Matthew 10)
None of the contemporary mindsets and practices and Gentile-originated theologies that are so normal to us even existed in our Lord’s day. They have been invented throughout the intervening centuries. So obviously the original disciples who heard Him say those words did not understand what He said in the modern ‘Great Commission’ understanding of that text as most of us modern day suburban, well-heeled, ‘anything goes’ Western peoples understand it. Yes, God wants His people to ‘spread the Gospel,’ to be sure. But He was talking about a very different, gut wrenching, heart-piercing, life-transforming world-changing Gospel of New Covenant Righteousness! He was talking about what His Father has always had in mind… not self-improvement, but death to self-life and resurrection in Spirit-imparted Messiah-Life! He was talking about leading His disciples into an image and likeness of God level of integrity and obvious, visible lives that would faithfully embody His awesome Righteousness!
That goes much deeper and is vastly more heart-penetrating than what most modern religious people can even imagine. People who are alive today have yet to see what He really had in mind for effectively dealing with the needs of a world teeming with Sin-corrupted, fallen human beings who are continually being devastated and manipulated by the powers of Darkness.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26a)
“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” (Ezekiel 36:17)
“And through you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3, Emphasis added.)
The Gospel is for the Whole World
The Lord was preparing His first century Jewish apostles to do something that, to their fellow Israelites of that day, was simply inconceivable! He was preparing them to begin to fulfill the promise He made to Abraham in Genesis 12:3… to lead the repentant portions of the pagan Gentile World into the fulfillment of the New Covenant… a supernatural holy, righteous, Spirit-empowered, love-compelled lifestyle that was intended to make even the elite hyper-religious rabbinical establishment of Israel jealous! (See Romans 11:11-14; Ephesians 2; 3:14-21) He was ordering them to get ready to start leading myriads of pagan Gentiles out of the fallen world system so that He could engraft them also into the spiritual Commonwealth and Life-giving Blood Covenant Root of Israel.. .the Root into which He Himself, the living Word of God, had originally engrafted Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the very beginning!
Now the same living Word of God was with them in His resurrected, perfect Humanity to establish and begin the New Covenant era that would finally usher in the fulfillment of that ancient world-saving Root that would be large and powerful and authoritative enough to bless and save the entire Sin-blasted family of fallen Adam and fulfill all of God’s promises about Creation’s full Restoration!
He was getting them ready to teach even the pagan Gentile world to become New Covenant Israelites! They too were to be taught and trained to serve and interact with Him just the way He, (God’s living Word) had taught those Jewish disciples to serve and interact with Him! He was saying: “Teach the rest of Israel and the Gentile world to live and interact with Me exactly as I taught Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses…and you…to live and interact with Me! I taught you to be My image and likeness. So now go and teach and demonstrate what that is…and what it means…and how it is to be done…to the rest of the world!”
Beloved, this bears repeating: He was preparing His New Covenant disciples to start gearing themselves to work in union with the Holy Spirit, just as He Himself had done, before His crucifixion and Resurrection. Now it was time for them to be prepared to do the same thing as an ever-growing Body, His Body, ushering in the era of God’s ultimate restoration…the true circumcision of the human heart…the New Covenant fulfillment of God’s original ‘image and likeness’ blueprint specifications for all of humanity! God sent His Word after fallen Adam and Eve in the Garden, to cover their Sin-corrupted nakedness and reconcile and reunite them to Himself. And God’s Word was also sent to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants, from generation to generation, to carry forward and complete this reconciliation and restoration with the rest of the world. And in the day of the first century disciples, the Word made flesh, was preparing them to introduce and multiply the post-Resurrection, New Covenant fulfillment of that original ‘image and likeness’ level of humanity. So He had much more in mind than a recruiting campaign that would invite Sin-corrupted people to shop and pick and choose a version of ‘Jesus’ they would prefer and ‘feel comfortable with’…from a vast buffet-like variety of self-pampering, man-invented and controlled, religous organizations, theologies and traditions! Despite our current, deeply-entrenched attitudes and practices…it is not our prerogative to ‘morph’ the risen Messiah into our image and likeness. It is His God-given commission to make us over completely into HIS image and likeness! He is waiting for us to finally believe He is with us and in us…so that we can be trained to allow Him to be and do what only He can be and do…from within us…as our new and Eternal Life that is wearing our flesh!
Do Our Current Lifestyles Fulfill the Lord’s Orders?
Ponder this: If the living Word of God were actually here with us today… revealing His ways and explaining the true, authentic meaning of God’s written Word, from Genesis to Revelation…would the true meaning of what God really meant by the term, ‘image and likeness’ correspond to the way we operate habitually in our daily lives? Do we actually mirror and embody what He had in mind in our daily stream of consciousness and in our actions, reactions and interactions? Or would His words upend all of our money-laden tables and ‘bulldoze’ and expose the ‘God (or Jesus) as You Like Him Buffet’ into which Christendom has evolved, with its myriads of competing self-adoring entrees of sects, theologies, man-made traditions and pop culture inspired practices that arrogant controlling men have stubbornly invented and palmed off on their generations, over the centuries? It is much more likely that rather than endorse and approve of what we have been doing, His words would stab and expose many of us with God’s chilling Truth…and we would all be utterly overwhelmed and stunned into devastated silence!
(And by the way, thanks to the Gift of the Holy Spirit who is here to make God’s living and written Word real and alive and abundantly fruitful in and through us, we actually do have the privilege of being able to sit at our Master’s feet and interact with Him in the perfection of His Resurrection Presence. Yes…He really is here with us too…just as He was with them that day…to explain, provide, protect, correct, discipline and guide us every moment of our lives. Only most of us don’t know it or believe it…yet.)
The Disciple ‘Job Description’
Modern disciples have the same job description the Lord’s first century Jewish disciples had as we see revealed in Scripture. This is what they did:
- They lived with our Master day and night and knew Him intimately.
- They lived with each other as His personal family members.
- They waited on and served our Lord, and each other, and memorized our Lord’s words and embodied His teachings.
- They followed His understanding and interpretation of the Scriptures.
- They learned to reproduce His Spirit-led actions and Scripture-fulfilling lifestyle.
- They transformed into His living image and likeness.
- They allowed apprentice disciples to watch them interact with our Lord so they could learn to be and do with our Lord what they saw the veterans being and doing with Him.
- After His Ascension and their reception of the gift of the Holy Spirit, He became their indwelling Life. And because they denied their lives, so that He could live His Life from within them, they served as His embodiment on the Earth. And, operating as their true Head, He continued to produce His fruit, as only the living creative Word of God could do, through their obedient faith and yielded, crucified, flesh.
The disciple job description never changes. The Lord Himself has to teach His own. He does it on a ‘Watch Me…now you’ basis. He, the living Word of God, is the Source of whatever is real, true and good. He is the one and only ‘Head’ of each disciple. Each disciple shares in the life and activity of the Head. Each disciple embodies the initiatives of the Head…in the midst of a spiritually ‘decapitated’, self-driven world. The Head goes first, and His living members follow. And His Presence and Life flowing through them, is what transforms His true disciples into, ‘The Light of the World’ (See Mt. 5).
After their Lord and Head ascended physically into Heaven, the original New Covenant disciples had to learn to live with Him and ‘under Him’…in a radically new way…the New Covenant, Spirit-filled way. Formerly they had lived with Him in the flesh, by sight, sound and feelings. They watched Him do what His Father sent Him to do from a few feet away. But now, in the post-Ascension New Covenant era, they had to learn to live with Him in the Holy Spirit, believing He was actually now IN them…and they were actually IN HIM…by supernatural faith in the indwelling Holy Spirit’s Word-revealing Power! After His Resurrection and Ascension, they had to learn to allow God’s living Word to continue to obey His Father and fulfill the written Word and heal the sick and the lame, free those that were demonically oppressed, and bring the dead back to life, just as He had done before His death.
But now, He was going to do what He had done visibly, before their eyes…from within them…invisibly, through their abiding, obedient, Spirit-empowered faith! And that’s exactly how we, who live in this modern era, must learn to live and interact with our Master. Yes, we can and must learn to live and interact with Him like that. And despite what many of us think, we’re not at a disadvantage. A most wonderful improvement has been made…the New Covenant improvement that gives us a tremendous edge at all times…regardless of what situation or set of circumstances we may face and have to endure! The Lord Himself said:
“…I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7)
Yes, God’s Holy Spirit is our wonderful Advantage. Now we don’t have to be in any certain place at any certain time to abide with our Master. Any place and any situation will suffice. We don’t need special gurus or mediators or religious ‘go-betweens’ to connect us with Him. We’re not limited by having to see or touch or feel Him first. His own Holy Spirit is within us always…the same Spirit that was always in Him when He walked the earth is now in us! This doesn’t depend on our circumstances, or how we feel, or how things seem to our fallen, limited human senses or any other consideration like physical finances and resources or worldly connections or expensive equipment and slick marketing techniques or highly endowed corporate moguls with state of the art facilities. It is our New Covenant Spiritual inheritance, essence and reality to have the living God, present and working in us and from us!
“I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.“ (Philippians 4:12-13 Emphasis added.)
The Holy Spirit is continually connecting us to the risen Lord of Glory and to the Father that sends Him to us! He transforms the Lord’s true disciples into Heavenly beings that abide with God and in God, and FROM God…at all times! We can know God and rest in the knowledge that we abide perpetually in the perfection of His Presence…directly, personally, at an incredible level of intimate bonding, all the time, everywhere – by the Holy Spirit’s power and our supernaturally obedient faith in God’s Word that He transmits into those of us that have become His living members on Earth.
Beloved, if He is truly going to become our ‘Head’, then we must truly become His living ’members’! We must become as one with Him! If we do, we won’t have to be bogged down by the limitations of space, time, religion or natural human weaknesses and disabilities. None of that will matter. The risen Messiah will be with us always! And He will never change…He will always be Infinite, Eternal, Present, Perfect and All-Sufficient as He operates from within us! He will be all that matters. His agenda has never changed nor will it ever change. He is always determined to restore and transform His own Covenant friends…into His own living image and likeness!
That is why this lifestyle requires special training. He must teach, train and equip us to live it out authentically and effectively. It’s not going to work in ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ type people. It will only work through the obedience of faith type people (Romans 1:5: 16:26). We will see it when we actually believe it! Christendom has lost sight of this unchanging spiritual fact over the centuries. But this is what the Follow Me Ministry will focus on – assisting those that are called to discipleship…to abide in Him by faith in His absolute credibility…so that He can teach us Himself…and restore this tremendous New Covenant treasure to His people…and prepare us to meet the unprecedented challenges the coming days are going to be forcing upon us.
This ministry will strive to help you cooperate with the Lord so that He can ‘garden’ your faith and deepen your understanding and teach you His ways. We won’t try to get you to place your expectations on yet another man-made ministry, or another collection of self-absorbing, self-improving material. It won’t encourage you to look to or chase after this or that charismatic personality. No…everything will focus your attention and energy to – living with and from…the risen Lord of Glory Himself, as He shows us how to do it, through Scripture…and in Person!
The Mother of All Reality-Shifts!
Try to imagine the wonder of having this awesome living Word that proceeds from the mouth of God, coming to you. Suddenly He picks you out of the crowd, pierces you with His eyes and penetrates and impregnates your innermost being with these words:
What an awesome summons! What a mind-shattering invasion! The one that is ALL in all to the entire universe, initiates a relationship with you that will be so deep, vast and loving that nothing else could ever comprehend or duplicate it. The Creator of all things invites you, an insignificant, tiny human, into an eternal love-union with Him! And what an enormous, gut-wrenching reality-shift that will cause in you! Try to imagine being eternally linked – Spirit to spirit – with the living Word of the Living God! What will that lead to? What explosive transformations will He make in you? What will He give to you in exchange as He strips away your former, radically independent, self-adoring, worldly existence? And what kind of future eternal inheritance will He now begin to equip and reconfigure you for…and stimulate you to grow into?
If God should call you to be His own, could you ever forget about it and go back to what you were before He pierced, penetrated and impregnated you with His proposal? And even if you tried, would you not be a marked man or woman forever? Yes indeed! You’d never be the same. That call, once you hear it, will burn the risen Messiah’s white-hot ‘brand’ deep into your soul and you’ll be marked and set apart forever as one of those that Almighty God has chosen to be – HIS! After He calls you, nothing short of being His will ever be able to satisfy or fulfill you from that point on!
Since Creation began, God’s Word has been summoning humans in this way. If they obey, He interacts with them at an intensely personal, intimate level. He reveals Himself to them in progressively overwhelming stages. But more than that, as their relationship with Him deepens, He begins to reveal Himself to others, through their circumstances and situations and by the way He radiates out from within the spirit, soul and body of each disciple! Each one serves as one of His ‘points of entry’ into this world. Once they enthrone Him as Lord and Master in their hearts, His Authority and Power begin to touch people and situations around them. And God reveals Himself all across the earth, through His Word’s enormously privileged, honored and very wise disciples! They serve as His living, mobile, strategic bases of operation on the Earth:
“Thus says the LORD: ‘Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,’ declares the LORD. But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who TREMBLES AT MY WORD!” (Isaiah 66:1-2 Emphasis added.)
“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; FOR IT IS GOD WHO IS AT WORK IN YOU, both to will and to work, for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13 Emphases added.)
Who Trains the Messiah’s Disciples?
Disciples must maintain continuous, intimately personal, interactive contact with their Master. They must get to know Him and His ways in person…with no go-betweens! No one can make a disciple for, or in place of, the Lord Himself. Nothing can substitute for His living, dynamic, interactive Presence. He calls us to follow Him. It’s not enough to follow after something or someone that is somehow connected to something about Him. It must be Him, dealing in us and with us and operating through us, at all times. He promised that He would be with us always, to do these things, just as the Scriptures have promised. And, thanks to the awesome Gift of the Holy Spirit, He has actually made it possible for us to abide with Him continuously so that we can allow Him to do whatever His Father sends Him to do to us, in us and through us!
So why would we ever settle for anything less? And why would we allow anyone or anything that He has created, to get between Him and us and keep us separated from Him? How is it that we’re willing to make ourselves ‘accountable to’ other humans, but refuse to be habitually accountable to and interactive with our indwelling Lord and Master Himself? How is it that we mindlessly ‘go to church’, but never get around to learning how to actually ’BE a church’ that bears His Presence at all times? Why do so many of us remain perpetual ’God Seekers’ and so few of us ever transform into…‘God Bringers’?
Beloved, in order to function faithfully and effectively in the conditions the Last Days will force upon us, we must allow the Lord to give us the level of training that will enable us to avail ourselves of this tremendous privilege and treasure of abiding with the risen Lord Himself. The world doesn’t need us…it must have Him! And we disciples must not settle for substitutes that try to take His place. There is no substitute; disciples will need Him more than anyone! For us, nothing but the Lord Himself will do! If He doesn’t train us Himself, our lives as disciples can’t be Biblically authentic nor will He be able to produce His fruit in and through us. If we’re not in direct touch with Him, any ‘fruit’ that may seem to appear will not actually be His Fruit, nor will it last or avail in eternity (1 Cor. 3:10-17). Nothing can be allowed to come between a vine and its branches. If that happens, the branches will die and the vine will not be able to live and produce its fruit through those branches. And that’s exactly how it is with the risen Lord and His disciples. He alone is our Life and nothing can ever be allowed to come between Him and us:
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so PROVE to be MY disciples.” (John 15:4-8 Emphasis added.)
Have the above words the Lord told His disciples penetrated your heart of hearts yet? Do you grasp the import of what He said? True disciples actually prove they’re the authentic embodiment of the Resurrection Presence of their Master. They reveal and demonstrate His indwelling Presence by bearing the supernatural ‘fruit’ that only He is able to produce in and through their lives. Supernatural, humanly impossible Word-validating proof appears within the lives and circumstances of disciples! That’s why we MUST learn to abide with Him through Spirit-empowered faith…especially…in excruciating, naturally impossible circumstances!
This is the target at which the Follow Me Ministry will aim its efforts. The preparation of disciples for the climactic, Last Days showdown with the powers of Darkness is what involves us. So, as long as the Lord allows and equips us to continue, we will make an ever-growing library of training material available for anyone that desires to deepen his or her understanding of what the Lord requires of His disciples and what He will require them to expect of Him! God will be faithful and see to it that we are able to develop the skill and discipline needed to actually begin to live out this utterly essential, irreplaceable, ‘Vine and branches’ lifestyle with and from His risen Son.
So the essential ‘tools’ for this training will not be anything created or controlled by any Sin-corrupted human. No man or woman or man-made ministry or set of materials or array of created organizations, rituals, formulas or devices can ever take His place. The only essential tools for true disciple life are the solitude’ in your heart, your Bible and your ‘Wilderness-level Prayer Closet’ in which you commune with your risen Master…continually!
Actually being and interacting with Him is the only ‘tool’ that enables you to develop the absolutely essential loving authentically personal and interactive relationship in your everyday life situations that each one of us must enjoy with our risen Lord. He is the only true Disciple Trainer! We are His disciples, not anyone else’s. So the uncreated Word of the living God Himself is what we really need to focus on and abide with. Things ABOUT Him will never do it. We must know His abiding Presence and hear His voice continually in order to follow Him in Spirit and in Truth. Only our risen Master can be and do and provide what we are going to need. Only God’s Word and Spirit can transform our fallen human flesh into what He knows we must become. The time for our preparation is getting short. So I pray that those He has called to be His disciples will respond to His summons while there is still time for them to get ready.
I must repeat this: Our Lord is the only one that can teach, train and prepare us…for what only He knows is going to happen. He is the one that taught Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses to abide and interact with Him…long before today’s organized theologies and religions were created! Now He’s here to invade our space and do the same with us that He once did with them…as soon as we wake up and begin to believe and do what He said and acknowledge and embrace His living Presence in us and among us. We must allow Him to demonstrate that He really is operating from deep within us. When we do, our disciple-training can begin in earnest! The interactive work of God’s living Word within us is the only tool that effectively allows Him to produce His fruit in and through our lives. He is the only Way. We cannot do without Him. Without His living Presence in us and among us, we’ll never grab hold of His New Covenant Reality. Nor will we be able to feed upon Him and live and bear His authentic fruit as His New Covenant disciples.
Beloved, do you see any need for this ‘decapitated’ world of ours to be given a fresh new revelation of mankind’s true ‘Head’? The Serpent is succeeding in separating multiple billions from their true Shepherd, the Word of God. So does the world need the true, living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to reveal once more, the Glory of His loving, Life-giving Son? Do you see any need for true, authentic, Spirit-filled people that can actually share the Divine Presence that God has entrusted to our care? Do you see any need to overcome demonic evil with the awesome GOOD that God’s Living indwelling Word is here to be to us, for us and through us? Do you know anyone that is hurting and hopelessly desperate and totally stuck? Are there people around you that have no awareness of the Living God? Do they need to know how desperately they need Him to redeem them? Do they need to know how much He loves, values and cherishes us and how passionately He desires to get our attention, draw us to Himself and bring us back to life from among the living dead while there is still time for reconciliation to take place? If you see a need for God to be able to reach out to such people – then you see a need for trained disciples. They’re the ones through whom God does what must be done for this lost, ‘decapitated’, grief-stricken, ‘living death’ fallen, broken, world.
Who Could Possibly Live Like This?
God doesn’t choose and train disciples because they’re so gifted and exceptionally superior to everyone else. He doesn’t choose them because they’re ‘hip’ or ‘tech savvy’ or because they’re festooned with academic degrees and honors. He doesn’t pick them because they know how to employ the latest, most effective ‘marketing techniques’. He chooses them precisely because they are crucified to all of that. He chooses them because they remain as one with Him, dependent upon Him, and because they look to no other source but Him and have learned to rest…drawing continually…from the infinite Covenant Treasury of His Perfect, All-Sufficient, Finished Work.
He chooses them because in themselves, they are so ordinary, typical and weak. Anyone seeing them would immediately know that the supernatural things that are happening in them and around them have to be coming straight from God, because they most certainly could not be the products of people as weak, foolish and unimportant as these no frills people obviously are! God’s ways directly contradict the world’s ways. God has already done all of the necessary work in eternity, through His living Word. And the Word has already paid the full price on our behalf so that we can have it all. But because we live in space and time, we must come to God continually and receive this Eternal Treasure as we have need of it, in our space and time daily situations and circumstances, as they appear. Disciples know this, so they look to their Heavenly Father for their ‘daily bread’…moment by moment and day by day.
Worldly religious people think in ‘decapitated’ ways, from self-centered, ego-bloating, God-ignoring perspectives. And they look to created things as their sources, mainly, themselves and their own devices. They idolize things they themselves imagine, devise and assemble. They assume that is what it takes. So they look to themselves to do everything for God and to be like God. To them, God isn’t real enough to speak and act for Himself. So they take it upon themselves to do everything for Him, or like Him. But that lifestyle is as old as the Garden of Eden!
“The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5 Emphasis added.)
In the Kingdom of Heaven, God works through His crucified Son’s image and likeness…the crucified disciples. Those that have been crucified and executed with their Lord have no other option but to depend on God’s Holy Spirit. Through His Spirit, God makes His beloved risen Son alive and active on the Earth. It is through the faith of His Word’s disciples that He is able to release the benefits of His Son’s Finished Work of atonement and can reach out, through them, on bankrupt mankind’s behalf. So when supernatural things begin to happen to and through such ordinary, simple, weak disciples, everyone around them can see that what is happening before their eyes is not about the disciples, or what they know or do or how they do what they do. What is happening is a revelation of the wonder of the perfect Finished Work of the risen Lord of Glory being transmitted into the earth by God’s own Spirit!
“And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:2-4 Emphasis added.)
This is how people can come to know and see that the marvels taking place are coming from the Head, and not from His human members. It is their glorious risen Lord, the Head, with whom these disciples are spiritually united, that is doing these things! The Living God…has spoken His own Word into them. And the Word is present in them, creating and revealing these astounding things…to His Father’s eternal Glory!
When that kind of Fruit can be seen through such unique human ‘branches’…people begin to focus their attention on ‘The Vine’. It’s all about our Master. He is here, and when this fact begins to appear in our midst, it will perce, penetrate and impregnate the dead, hardened hearts all around us…like nothing else could!
“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are…” (1 Corinthians 1:26-28)
“For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God!” (1 Corinthians 2:2-5)
God gives some awesome revelation throughout the entire Bible. Here it is:
Every command He gives to the human race is totally supernatural and utterly beyond our ability to fulfill in our own strength or by any human devices!
Many don’t understand that God’s perfect standards of righteousness are utterly, absolutely impossible for us to satisfy because in ourselves, we are Sin-corrupted, and incredibly weak, vulnerable to temptations and powerless. We forget, that as soon as Adam and Eve rejected and bypassed God’s living Word, the Serpent decapitated them! They and their offspring died! And dead people can’t do anything that lives. Most modern ‘self-actualizing’ people can’t begin to fathom what this means. Nor do we understand the enormity and overpowering glory of God’s supremacy, preeminence, holiness and righteousness and utter integrity and purity. There is nothing in us Sin-corrupted humans that could compare to the eternal Life and Glory that abide in Him! The comparison blows fallen human flesh away and exposes and forever discredits it. And after that realization hits home, all we can say is ‘O God have mercy on me, a sinner!’
How could we expect the perfect God to accept those that reject or ignore, or deviously warp and disfigure His beloved living Word? Most modern people do not have a clue about what the Serpent has done to us, nor are they able, in their ‘Head-less’ state to understand or view or know God as He really is. We are spiritually blind and self-centered and humanistic. We can only see and think and react in arrogant, self-centered, self-righteous ways. We assume everything has to be about us and the way we perform. But consider this: in the very first gospel account given in the New Testament apostolic section of the Bible, when the living Word of Almighty God made flesh first begins His public ministry of reconciliation, regeneration and restoration as the long-awaited Messiah of Israel, this is the very first recorded thing He said:
“Blessed are the poor (bankrupt) in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven!” (Matthew 5:3 Amplification added.)
The most wonderfully liberating truth is this: once we hear God’s Word and obey His command to exchange our unreal, radically independent living death existence for the eternal Resurrection Life of His Son, we are no longer ‘Head-less’! We’re united to the Eternal Perfection and Fullness of God’s Word; and then His Life will be free to live and operate from within us, by the Power of God’s Holy Spirit. When we obey and allow God’s Son to be our new, Eternal Life…He is free to obey God from within us…in our name. God Himself obeys His own commands and meets His own perfect standards from within us! God does everything necessary…in and through the Authority of His Word and the Power of His Holy Spirit. And the crucified, totally-dependent-on-God disciples, embody this glorious reality!
This is the Heavenly, other-worldly lifestyle of New Covenant disciples. And that’s what the Follow Me material will try to unpack and help believers to practice…so that everything can be about God’s Living Word in us. Disciples must be trained to get out of God’s way and REST and rejoice in the utter perfection of their Master and His equally Perfect Finished Work. That’s why He must increase and everything else must decrease…until He is ALL…in all of us! And when we acknowledge Him and give Him the true place of preeminence that only He deserves to occupy, He becomes our infinite, eternal Blessing. And that Blessing contains our God-given Salvation, Ability, Perfection, Value, Protection, Authority and Triumph!
Let’s Follow Him Together!
More material will be added to this website on a regular basis in the days to come. If you visit regularly, you’ll find more and more things to think and pray over that pertain to disciple life. Extraordinary times and challenges require extraordinary disciples. And that requires specialized training, preparation and equipping. So if any of this appeals to you, and you know you’ve received the Lord’s call to be His disciple, then the first ministry I founded, the Christ-Life Ministry, and this new Follow Me Ministry and their combined materials and tools, will no doubt be a blessing to you.
The Follow Me ministry is a continuation and further development of material I wrote for the Christ-Life Ministry and its support group training process. The material for both ministries is modeled after the Exodus that all disciples must make from self-life over to Christ-Life. The new material I’m developing will probe the revelation of God’s living Word who was made flesh. He is the one that called us to follow Him as His disciples. God reveals Him from the beginning of Genesis all the way through to the end of Revelation. (Note: For more information regarding the purpose of the Follow Me Ministry, refer to the Letter from Home for July-August 2013.) In order to follow Him in spirit and in truth, His disciples must not only know Him with Biblical accuracy, precision and authenticity…they must also begin to apply themselves to OBEY His commands and join Him in ministering to Father’s wishes and fulfilling His will to perfection. So our material will strive to make beneficial contributions in this area.
If you are not yet familiar with the first ministry I founded, Christ-Life, and the sterling reputation it has been earning since 1991, visit the website: www.ultimatejourney.org. The Christ-Life staff will answer your questions and if you are interested, they will help you get started.
This new Follow Me ministry is part of a non-profit, tax exempt organization named, The Hope of Zion Congregation (Adat Hatikvah Tzion). ‘Adat’ is a congregation of Messianic Jews and Gentiles that worship and follow our Lord together, as one New Man in Messiah. This congregation believes in, benefits from and promotes the Christ-Life Ministry and its Ultimate Journey disciple training venue. And it has also embraced this new Follow Me Ministry and welcomed it into its official corporate congregational matrix. For your information, this website provides a link to Adat’s website.
If you think our Follow Me endeavor has merit and would help to enhance the ongoing building of our Lord’s Body on Earth, and, perhaps benefit you in your understanding of and relationship with your risen Lord, then please consider joining our ever-growing Family of disciples-in-training. Your intercession, and give-and-take input and financial support will help us to finish the task that has been entrusted to us. You can use the contribution link provided on this website, or mail your tax-deductible gifts, feedback, input and other correspondence to:
Follow Me Ministries
P.O. Box 540826
Omaha, NE 68154-0826
In His service, and yours,