Wrote a book. Check.

Back in 2014 I begrudgingly announced in a blog that I was going to write a book. [I figured that if I put that out there then I was committed!] Well, five years later, START SMALL is published and on AMAZON! I have a small goal with my writing: I want to inspire this present generation to, once again, begin seeking His Kingdom, since my generation (and a few generations prior) have failed to do so.

Here is an excerpt of one of my chapters…I hope you enjoy:

Chapter Five: Start Small

Jesus often did, said, and suggested some pretty crazy things, and I have often wondered if He enjoyed raising the eyebrows of his onlookers and freaking out His listeners!

One of His most unconventional discourses took place on the day He sent out His twelve disciples to heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons. All in a day’s work, right?

In this interaction, Jesus sounds like a tried-and-true army general shoring up his rather green soldiers.  Yes, they were trained and ready, but Jesus was making this real.

The final instructions Jesus gives them for this particular mission put everything into perspective:

This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance.

The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.  Matthew 10:42 (MSG)

Seeking the Kingdom can be puzzling. However, giving a cup of cool water is not. It’s easy. It’s an attainable task. Even a green recruit could do that.

So, I did that.

A True Apprentice

July in Alabama is hot. Real hot. Like choosing to stay inside where it is air-conditioned hot. 

I was looking out the window while washing dishes inside of my climate-controlled house when I saw a middle-aged, uniformed gentleman crossing my neighbor’s yard. I quickly concluded that he was not a thief, but likely a meter reader. God highlighted him to me and the thought came, “Take a cup of cool water to him.”

I didn’t hesitate. This was doable. I shook the bubbles off of my hands. I ran to the fridge and grabbed a bottled water before heading out the door. He was, indeed, the meter man and he was crossing the street into my yard. I also noticed he was dripping sweat. Prime!

I slowed my eager pace down a bit so as not to scare him. “Sure is a hot day, isn’t it?” I casually asked. 

He responded with a slight smile and a nod.

I held out the water to him. “Would you like some water?  I want to give it to you in Jesus’ name.” Dang. That sounded so religious. The words felt wrong even as they came rushing very unnaturally out of my mouth. I should have left off the last part. 

He took the cool water with a “thank you.” I smiled, turned and hightailed it back into my house.

Handing someone a cup of cool water was more dicey than I had anticipated. Yes, the task was easy, but I made it religious. I felt stupid.

However, I had done it. The door was open. I was a true apprentice who really had a lot to learn. I would not turn back.

The Kingdom is expansive and eternal. It is practical. It is not religious. It is not limited by space nor time. God invites us to partner with Him in it through the means of seeking it first.

It truly is best to simply start small.

Start Small: A Quick Start Guide to Seeking the Kingdom

by Karen S. Dilbeck

I do not believe in discipleship

The concept of discipleship was ingrained in me early on:

Who is discipling you? and who are you discipling? were familiar questions.

It was normal to be in a discipleship group–a group that taught the ways of Jesus. The motive was (and is) pure and good.

However, over the years, I have discovered that neither the words ‘discipleship’ nor  ‘discipling’ are in the Bible. From all I can surmise, we made up those words over time to describe what we are doing.

Apparently we in Christendom, pure heartedly, have veered off course. Way off course. Let me explain my point of view.

At age 24, I went to seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. I had been working with teenagers since I was 19. I had quite a bit of favor with teenagers (youth) but no education in that area. The next seemingly apparent step was to earn my Masters in Religious Education.

Early on during my time at this fine institution of higher learning, I found a church that I liked.  What I really, really liked most about this church was my Sunday School teacher. His name was Dr. Stan Lee. He and his wife, Marlene, were real life missionaries in a foreign land. For some reason, though, they were temporarily at this church. While there, Dr. Lee taught Sunday School.

Each Sunday I, along with a few others, went early just so we could watch him as he prepped to teach. He would stand in front of two chalkboards for a bit and just stare at them.

And then, as if an unseen checkered flag dropped, he began to write—he wrote and wrote until both chalkboards were filled up. And the words he wrote were full of RAW LIFE. Then Dr. Lee took the next 45 minutes or so and spoke about all the words on the board. Again, LIFE. I was mesmerized, challenged, and hungry for more!

One Sunday I got up the nerve to wait after class to ask Dr. Lee one simple question, “will you disciple me?”

Side note: I was naïve about the obvious taboo male/female discipleship thing. However, I was very pure hearted and eager to get more of this life-filled teaching, which is what I believed discipleship was.

Awkwardness appeared. Dr. Lee looked angst. Yes, my query was definitely troubling him.

He looked away, looked back at me and looked away again. He opened his mouth, closed it, and after a few more seconds, he spoke slowly methodically and this is what he said: “Only One disciples. And his name is Jesus. I disciple no one.”

I smiled politely, curtsied and excused myself. (Okay, I didn’t curtsy, but I did hightail it out of there.)

I was so embarrassed. What the heck did he mean?? I had asked a very common Christian-type question and he, figuratively, slammed me.

Yet, I really heard what he said. I thought about it a lot. And over the days, weeks, months, and years to come, it resounded. It resonated.

And it altered my life’s trajectory. 

That very day, Dr. Lee contributed to making me a disciple as well as giving me a much greater understanding to actually what making a disciple meant and means.

“Go and make disciples…” was the very thing that Jesus told all of us to do in, what we call, the Great Commission.  Disciple means a devoted follower. Dr. Lee didn’t mind teaching me; he simply did not want me to follow him.

Jesus did NOT tell me (or any of us) to disciple anyone.

If someone is discipling me, I am following them.

If I disciple someone, then they are following me.

If I am making disciples (devoted followers), then I am pushing them (or compelling them) to follow the One and only person that God wants us to follow, that is Jesus.

Over time, I have learned the simplicity of what it means to go straight to Jesus. I am still learning how to walk with him and talk with him and most of all, listen to and follow him.  

I have learned that he is life and gives his life freely. I have learned that his yoke (teachings) are easy (oh, so easy) and the burden (expectations) he places on me is oh. So. Light.

I am his disciple. And the way I make disciples is to push others (believers and unbelievers alike) to him. Again, I am here to push people to him, not to bring them to me.

Yes, I teach. (And listen to other’s teachings.)

Yes, I equip. (This is what I think most people are actually doing when they are discipling others. I do think the semantics are important.)

Yes, I mentor. (And have a few mentors that I can call on.)

Yes, I make disciples. (That is now normal, and very easy.)

But, no, I do not disciple, because that is not what he asks me to do.

Thank you, Dr. Lee, for not discipling me, but instead for doing what all of us are called to do: for (contributing to) making me a disciple.

That place.

I was a young mom and it was one of those days. Sick kids, a dirty house, carpooling, and an impending party–among other things, overwhelmed me. I stomped through the house with a basket full of dirty clothes on my hip.

That is when I first heard the voice: “stop and get on your knees.”

I tried to ignore it. “No!” I screamed inside, “I do not have time.”

I kept moving, kept fretting, kept pushing to get ten hours of stuff done in six hours. “I can do this! I’ve got to do this” partnered with “I can’t do all of this! How can I get all of this done?” 

I felt my skin crawling, my fuse shorten. My jaw was clenching to keep from yelling at my kids who were just being kids.

“Stop and get on your knees…”

“I. Don’t. Have. Time.”

More clothes. Empty the dishwasher. Return the phone call. Wipe the nose. Change the diaper. The washer stopped. “Oh, I have to go to the store. Remember the ice. I’ll stop on the way to the school.”

“Stop and get on your knees…”

“OH, OKAY!” I said sharply and aloud. He [God] wasn’t going to let up. So I put down the laundry basket and got on my knees and dug my elbows into the ottoman.

My obligatory prayer was discombobulated:I’m just doing this because you told me to. I have no faith to believe it will help because, the reality is, I just have way too much to do in too short period of time. I get that. But, I give you my day. There.”

(I wanted to add, “You happy now?” but that seemed a bit much.)

I got up, grabbed my laundry basket and moved on.

Then, I noticed, about ten, maybe 15 minutes later that I was calm. Very calm. Remarkably calm. How did that happen? How did my day, and my head which had been in the pit, turn and become calm and completely peaceful, and, well, quite okay?

I managed a “thank You.” And I meant it.

That place. That place where, I hear his voice and I know it’s Him. That place where it truly, it is only God and me. That place where I He knows me, warts and all, and he wants me just the way I am. There is where I am safe.

That place where He transforms me without me working;

or trying;

or even believing.

The place where He not only alters me, but alters the atmosphere.

I love God. I love God because He loves me.

I love him because He shows me secrets. Secrets that even children can understand. Secrets that even dumb blondes can grasp.

I love God because He has shown me the indescribable transforming power of the secret place.

And that the secret place is found on my knees with elbows grinding into an ottoman;

or in a car when He says, ‘turn the radio off’;

or a crowd when I close my eyes;

or on a chair when I push back from the desk;

or a long line when I choose to know He is standing next to me;

or in front of the TV when I shift my eyes away from the screen;

or a park bench where I breathe in. And breathe out;

or on a bed at 3am when all the other voices are battering my brain, and I chose to whisper to Him, “help.”

 I love God because he sees me and woos me and then meets me and still loves me.

And He shows me that oftenespecially when I purpose to go to that place . . . where it’s just me and Him.