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From the Winter 2013 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

Desert Discipleship

by Mark Carter
C.S. Lewis Institute Fellow

 
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  So what lessons learned, if you’ll pardon my military jargon again, might be worth passing along?
  • Embrace the desert experience. We probably shouldn’t be surprised if our Father dramatically alters our best, well-made plans, and we suddenly find ourselves in the desert, metaphorically speaking if not also literally. We should strive prayerfully to accept desert seasons as opportunities to be humble before our Lord and before others. Will we lament our desert experiences as did the disgruntled Israelites during the Exodus and cry for a return to the delicacies of Egypt? Or will we trust our Lord and draw nearer to Him in the desert seasons of life?    
  • Practice Christian ecumenism. We can no longer afford to be blasé about unity in Christ! A place of unity is also a place of loving humility for every one of us. I am by no means advocating abandoning core doctrinal truth for the sake of a “phony unity.” Nor am I in favor of abandoning treasured worship practices. I am encouraging standing shoulder to shoulder with our sisters and brothers in Christ across traditional and denominational lines and together being God’s agents for His kingdom in the world. Defending the sanctity of life, feeding the hungry, and easing the suffering of the sick are just three endeavors where all disciples of Christ can join together.  
  • Make disciples! The Great Commission is our King’s standing order. For those of us who have been blessed with the Fellows, Journey, or Heart & Mind Discipleship Programs through CSLI, are we partnering with other disciple makers and using those blessings/gifts to bless others? Are we joining in actively making disciples in our local churches, homes, small groups, and wherever God places us in the world? Or are we sitting all alone on the sidelines, content with our own personal spiritual-
growth programs?
  The desert can certainly be a very challenging place, but with a clearer focus on God and a realization of His abiding presence with us, we can experience a renewed sweetness of His grace, both individually and with fellow disciples of Christ. Desert experiences can facilitate our concentrating on the basics—drawing closer to our Lord and drawing closer to our sisters and brothers in Christ across traditional and denominational lines. C.S. Lewis famously advocated a position of Mere Christianity—essential, core, shared beliefs for all believers for all time. Perhaps that is also the place where we can focus our discipleship efforts—Mere Discipleship, if you will. The C.S. Lewis Institute is just one tremendous resource available to us. Will we obey our King’s standing order to go and make disciples—Mere Disciples?

Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert. (Isa. 43:18–19)



Notes
1. All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version.
2. John 17:21.

Mark Carter graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1993. After serving on active duty on two sea duty tours and a tour as a company officer at the Naval Academy, he continued serving in the Navy Reserve, where he is currently a Commander. His current position is systems engineer for the Navy ERP program office in Annapolis, MD. Mark is a C.S. Lewis Institute Fellow. He lives with his wife Colleen, also a C.S. Lewis Institute Fellow, and their son in Annapolis, MD.

 
COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  Knowing & Doing is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.
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