The Fruitful Life By Jerry Bridges (Review)

Jerry Bridges has discipled me from afar for years. I was first introduced to his book, The Pursuit of Holiness (affiliate link) around 10 years ago and it has left a lasting impression on my life.  I was grateful for the opportunity to read and review The Fruitful Life: The Overflow of God’s Love Through You(affiliate link).

The Fruitful Life: The Overflow of God’s Love Through You (affiliate link) is an application oriented exposition of the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23.  I am deeply grateful an appreciative to the author for taking the time to flesh out the practical aspects of how fruit is produced in our lives.  He does an outstanding job at bringing the reader in to focus on living a Christ-centered fruit-bearing life.  He acknowledges an individuals reliance on the Holy Spirit of God to produce fruit, while at the same time calling the reader to responsibility.  For example, in the chapter concerning humility the author writes, “Though not mentioned explicitly in Galatians 5:22-23, humility is surely a fruit of the Spirit, the result of His ministry in our hearts.  But this ministry does not occur without deliberate, conscious effort on our part.  The Spirit does not make us humble; He enables us to humble ourselves in these difficult situations” (57).

Each chapter contains excellent study and application questions that go well beyond most group study books that I have read.  If read thoroughly and with a mind for application this book can change your life.  This book is a great tool for understanding and applying the scripture to your life.  It is designed to be useful for either individual study or study as a group.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Fruitful Life: The Overflow of God’s Love Through You (affiliate link) the retail price is $12.99 (paperback), and is worth twice that.  It is also available at places like for $10.39 (affiliate links).  I gave it five stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book (affiliate link) free from NavPress as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

All the Disciple Now Posts in One Spot

3 Keys to a Good Disciple Now Weekend

Disciple Now Themes

Reflections on Disciple Now 2009

Student Ministry in General

Top 5 Disciple Now Themes of All Time

In the last decade I have been involved in well over 20 Disciple Now weekends as either the host, guest leader, or guest speaker.  Many of the Disciple Now’s we hosted in conjunction with other student ministries.  Here is a list of my favorites and a few ideas I have for the future.

Top 5 Disciple Now Themes of All time

1. Different by Design – Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

2. Pilgrim’s Progress – Introduction to the Journey

3. Authentic Faith – Show me your fruit

4. Back to the Basics – Spiritual Disciplines

5. The Body of Christ – Unity

Five Disciple Now Themes for the Future

1. Hunger for the Harvest – Longing for the World to Know

2. Resident Aliens – Following Jesus in a world that Doesn’t Follow Him

3. Kingdom Come – Until all have heard

4. Dangerous Discipleship – What following Jesus Might Cost You

5. Never Eat Undercooked Meat – How church works

My Top 5 blog Posts of 2009

I’ve been blogging right at a year now.  I really didn’t get serious about it until later this year some time around September.  My original purpose was to open the door to share the gospel and encourage others in their relationship with Jesus Christ.  So far I have been blessed beyond imagination to start conversations and interact with people I haven’t seen in years or have never met face to face.  I have lots of plans about blogging in the new year, but before we go there, I thought I would do a little research and share some of the most popular posts of this past year.

1. 3 things I’d tell my teenage daughter after watching “New Moon”

2. A Few thoughts on Fatherhood

3. My Story (An introduction) … You can catch the rest of the series by following the links

4. Why Santa Clause Doesn’t come to Pensacola

5. 3 keys to a good Disciple Now Weekend … You can catch the rest of this series by following the links

My goal for 2010 is to refine my blogging to three main areas.  Based on the response to these blog posts and others I hope to focus on Family, Ministry, and Book Reviews.  While none of my book reviews independently made the top 5, I had several that were close and book reviews do make up a great deal of my traffic.  Hopefully I’ll get a chance to try some new things in 2010 like contests and giveaways.  I look forward to the new year and all that it has in store.

3 Keys to a Good Disciple Now Weekend (Part: 3)

The Follow Up

Ok.  Here is perhaps the most important part of the whole Disciple Now weekend, Follow Up!  It begins as soon as the students head home after the morning service.  There are generally three major areas that I like to follow-up with as quickly as possible (to help keep the events of the weekend fresh).

1. Leaders

I typically enjoy having lunch with all of my leaders or scheduling another time to meet with them.  I like to discuss the event while it is still fresh in their minds.  Each leader gets an opportunity to discuss challenges the weekend posed for them, opportunities for further ministry (as they see it), and an evaluation of the whole weekend.  I treasure this time as it provides for me a great opportunity to coach my leaders through processing the event as well as provides me with another perspective on leading our students.

2. Host Homes

I usually try to follow-up with host homes casually on an individual basis in the week after the Disciple Now weekend.  I also like to give out a brief survey on things that went well and things that we can improve before the next Disciple Now weekend.  Though they did not make it to my big 3  list for a successful Dnow weekend, host homes are crucial.  Getting key insight from adults who have just spent a weekend in their home with your students is never a bad idea.

3. Students

After having an opportunity to gather as much information as possible after the event from leaders and host homes it is important to use that information to engage students.  Sometimes this comes in passing information on to LIFE group leaders (the real everyday hero’s in student ministry) in discussing how to better minister to individual students.  Sometimes this provides great opportunity to follow-up with a student who was asking questions at Disciple Now weekend.  Other times the information is applied to working on group dynamics.  As a Student Pastor or Student Ministry Leader you will be uniquely equipped to figure out the best strategy to take the information you have gathered and shepherd students.  The goal is to help move students along in process of becoming fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.  Not just to hold a successful event.  Events are just tools that we can use along the way to develop disciples.

3 Keys to a Good Disciple Now Weekend (Part: 2)

The Leader

The second key to planning a great Disciple Now weekend is the leaders.  Once the theme is figured out, it is time to figure out who will be leading your small group bible studies in the homes.  I used to get college students from the local Christian University or BCM (Baptist Campus Ministries) group to help me out on this one.  However, as I have had opportunity to be a youth pastor in one church for an extended period of time, I have enjoyed having kids who have come through the program start leading small groups once they have hit college.  Its great for the younger students to see a student who has come all the way through the student ministry and its good for the leaders to be able to give something back to the group they came from.  On top of that, I get to test the kids who have been under my teaching and provide them with further opportunities for growth and experience.

Wherever you get your leaders, the key is that they exhibit a growing relationship with God.  At the end of the day you want someone who will reinforce what it looks like to grow and mature in a relationship with God.  I like the idea of college students because it gives your students a good role model for their next steps on the journey.

Even though I generally know my leaders before they come lead the Disciple Now weekend.  I generally like to sit down with them a month or two before the weekend and brief them on the Theme, the idea of what kids will be in their group, and the material they will be teaching through.  I also like to catch up and find out how things are progressing at school and what God is teaching them.

3 Keys to a Good Disciple Now Weekend (Part: 1)

Ok are you ready?  I am about to share the three keys for an awesome Disciple Now weekend.  This might surprise some of you, but I am not about to say, “The Band, The Speaker, and the T-shirts,” though those may be important in their own right.  There are 3 other things that I have seen bring about more lasting change than any band, speaker, or T-shirt has ever done.  In my estimation, if you can get these 3 right you can make up for a bad band or t-shirt (its really hard to make up for a bad speaker so we’ll make him the unofficial 4th key to a good D-Now Weekend). So1lxO

1. The Theme (go large view over small view)

When designing a D-Now Weekend I like to start with the theme.  Generally speaking there are a lot of good and average themes out there (and I’ve done some of them).  You have your run of the mill, “back to the basics,” “true love waits,” etc, etc…  truth be told these are not bad themes.  They just lack the substance I am looking for.  If I’m going to invest the man hours that it takes to pull of a great disciple now weekend I want a theme that my students see practically 8 months down the road. (meaning they remember the theme as well as the event, and more importantly apply it to life.)

So what does that look like?  Take the “True Love Waits” theme and think about it.  Is that really the big issue?  What do you want to teach your kids? “Don’t have sex until you are married? Waiting for Sex is good?  Purity is better than impurity?”  Nothing overtly wrong with those statements, but what if you had the chance to cover the whole “don’t have Sex until you are married” theme put it in a positive light (give the kids something to strive for… rather than something to strive against) and at the same time lead your kids toward maturity in Christ?

How do you do that?  You take it a step deeper.  God didn’t just make you a sexual being he made you to be a man or be a woman.  The questions now isn’t, “will you wait?” But what kind of man or woman will you be?  The challenge changes from waiting to being.  As a pastor I am not so much interested in behavior modification as I am in leading students into a growing relationship with Jesus.  While “If you love them, you will wait” is not a bad theme, it is a small goal compared to God made you for a purpose as a man or a woman.

The bigger theme we went for in DNow last year and several years ago was “Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.”  The point was to help kids understand who they were in God’s eyes even down to their gender, realize how men and women compliment one anther, challenge our guys to be men, free our girls to be women, and help them to know how to encourage one anther in ways they will receive it.  While true love waits was part of it, it wasn’t all of it.

So now months later I can ask our young men to filter a thought our an action and do it along the terms of biblical manhood.   It doesn’t mean they all drank the cool-aide and are running around using the lingo, but it does mean we have introduced a filter to a world view that will help them evaluate their actions according to what kind of man or woman they are becoming.  This year we are going to do it all over again with the theme of Servant Leadership.

I realize that this idea Biblical Manhood and Womanhood may be new to many of you, so I have included a link to a previous post throughout this article.

9 Reflections on Disciple Now (Part 3)

7. Our students were challenged to grow in their relationship with Christ and develop a cosistent habit of going to the scripture on a daily basis.

8.  Our students were given a frame work for discerning how scripture applies to their lives.  In other words: Implications from passages such as Genesis 1:27 were drawn to how we should value men and women as both being made in the image of God and thus we were equal but different.

9. Our students were provided to discuss their understanding of manhood and womanhood in a small group of their peers allowing for accountability and encouragement.

9 Reflections on Disciple Now (Part 2)

3. Our teenagers glorified God by serving others with the work projects this weekend (They painted a house, built a ramp, hosted a backyard bible club, and took cookies to the home bound).

4. Our teenagers were given at least one more point of contact with our church family (they stayed in the home of church members and the relationships at Calvary were deepened and  developed as students and adults interacted)

5. Our Teenagers were given a positive aim for their life and real reason to remain pure (to glorify God in manhood and womanhood!)  Too often the loftiest aim we give our kids is to stay out of trouble… ie… “true love waits” and we fail to provide a positive challenge to our kids to raise the standard.

9 Reflections on Disciple Now (Part 1)

2227885657_25a043b6e5_m The event is over.  The students have gone home and the quiet descends on what was once a room full of chaos and chatter.  The lives that were united for a few hours this weekend have temporarily scattered across Pensacola.  As I pray over the quiet room I recount all the events of the weekend and I can not help but give God the glory for all he has done.

9 Reflections on Disciple Now 2009

  1. Our teenagers were confronted with the gospel. (One of our students gave her life to Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior!)
  2. Our teenagers were challenged with a biblical definition of manhood or womanhood. (they can no longer live in ignorance of the issue, they must now choose their actions each day based on the knowledge of an existing framework for how men and women can glorify God together).
  3. our teenagers were exposed to a model of successful discipleship where students become teachers (all of our leaders had been through this topic with me before…With the exception of John who has lead his students through similar material).