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MasterLife Together | Matt & Allison Willis

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
March 4, 2023 1:00 am

MasterLife Together | Matt & Allison Willis

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

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March 4, 2023 1:00 am

What might happen in your church, your family, or your own heart if you get together with others to study the Bible? On this Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, you’ll hear about a tool that has helped thousands of Christians progress in prayer, personal purity, sharing their faith, and other key disciplines. Hear about MasterLife Together on Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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Going through this process with other people, you're getting to experience the Lord at work in their lives. You're getting to learn from them, to hear from the Holy Spirit inside of them. I think that Jesus calls every Christian to be a disciple, and honestly, I feel kind of sad for Christians who are missing out on the adventure of discipleship. He invites everyone to this, so let's go on for the ride. Welcome to Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" .

Today, if you're frustrated with your spiritual life and you want to follow God fully, don't miss our conversation straight ahead. Matt and Allison Willis are with us, and we're going to talk with them about a discipleship experience for small groups that might be just what you are looking for. You can find out more at our website, buildingrelationships.us. As always, our host is Dr. Gary Chapman, and I believe you know our guests, Gary. I do know our guests.

They live in our city. We work at our church, and so I've known them for a few years now. Matt actually leads our missions and evangelism department, and I'm excited about what we're talking about today.

It's going to be a good conversation, Chris. Well, let me introduce them formally. Matt and Allison Willis currently serve at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where Matt is the associate pastor of missions and evangelism, as Gary just said. They previously served as international mission board missionaries in South Asia with their three children. Matt has a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Allison is a registered dietitian with a master's degree in dietetics. You can find out more about them and our featured resource at the website, buildingrelationships.us. The resource is Master Life Together, a discipleship experience for small groups.

Again, go to buildingrelationships.us. Well, Matt and Allison, welcome to Building Relationships. Thank you so much for having us.

Yeah, thanks for having us on today. Let me start with your love story. I'm into relationships and I'm into love, okay? How did you meet and decide, Allison, that Matt was the one for you? Tell us a little bit about that. Well, I would love to tell that story to you.

It's a favorite of mine. I have to start with a little back story. A friend, when I was in college, invited me to take a course with her called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. So I had grown up in church, but I had somehow come away not really grasping God's heart for all nations. And so all I had really ever thought about at that point in my life was that God was the God of Allison and my little circle of friends and family and my little community.

I had never really considered how much bigger he is than that. And it was as if I thought I knew all about God, but had only been staring at his toenail. So after I took the Perspectives class, I was invited to go on a mission trip to China. I was scared to death. God told me to go, even though I was scared to death. And I was a pretty terrible candidate for the mission trip. I'm a homebody.

I'm not very adventurous. I hate flying and in college I had just started having panic attacks for the first time. So I thought, you know, God, I'm not sure why you're asking me, but I'm going to say yes and I'm going to let you work out all the rest of the details. So that leap of faith really changed the trajectory of my life because guess who was on that mission trip?

I can only guess that he was, he was on that trip. So yeah, we went to teach English and we happened to be paired together to teach at a high school. So Matt and I were spending all day, every day, either preparing to teach or teaching or spending time with our students during the course of that month that we were in China and we ended up getting to share the gospel with four of our students, which was such a privilege and such a joy.

All four of those students became believers. And so, you know, the foundation of our relationship was serving together. And you know, it was really neat because here we were, you know, in a remote part of the world, you know, I didn't even bring makeup on the trip. I was wearing the same clothes every day. He was seeing the real you.

Yes, there was absolutely no pretense whatsoever. And you know, the first time I felt drawn to Matt was when I heard him pray and I thought, I want to get to know this guy. And then as we spent time together in China, I just, you know, felt a very natural and special connection with him spiritually. And so yeah, one night towards the end of the trip, Matt asked me to go on a walk with him. And so we went out on a walk and late at night and all the lights went out, the power went out. And so there we found ourselves, you know, a few blocks from our hotel room with no lights on in the streets, but the sky was just lit up with stars. And Matt said to me, he said, so Alison, what do you think about us?

And you know, what a loaded question that was. So it was it was during that walk that I shared with him a verse that God had given me about the the man I would someday marry. And he had given me the verse Philippians 4.8. And that verse, you know, talks about how the things that you know, we're thinking about should be, you know, the things that are true and pure and noble and right, and admirable. And how, you know, the person that God had for me was all those things, because I would be thinking about this person a lot. And so, sure enough, I told that to Matt, and I'll let him pick up the story from there because it gets a little interesting.

Okay, Matt, let's hear your side. Well, to go back to pre-trip, we had a training that we had to go to to learn how to teach English as a second language well. And in this room, there were people there for a variety of different reasons, and only a subset was going on this mission trip to China.

And I would only find out after the training who was on the team. And so I happened to sit across the table from Alison and was immediately struck by her beauty, and I immediately thought to myself, I hope she's going to China. And so I was very thankful for the Lord that he had called her to that same trip, and it must have been his grace that used my prayer life to attract Alison to me, since I'm not as physically attractive as she is, you know, and so... Oh, that's not true, honey. You're very handsome.

Thank you, I appreciate it. You know, when we go back to that walk that was so significant in the middle of the mission trip in China, when she said that a few months ago, God gave me the verse about who I'm going to marry, it's Philippians 4.8, I was shocked because God had given me that exact same verse a few months prior about who I would marry as well. Wow.

Wow. And that verse isn't really about marriage. And so the fact that the Lord would do that was just incredible. I thought this is such a clear sign from the beginning of our relationship that God's going to have us get married. We did think, I guess we should wait until we get married, until one of us has graduated college and has a job, you know, so we kind of dated for a couple of years only because of that. But it seemed like from the very beginning, God's going to have us spend the rest of our lives together.

Well, that's an exciting story, man. You know, Alison, let's move forward a little bit now to get into the marriage, okay? If you were to look back and think in terms of giving advice to a couple that was beginning married life, is there anything that you would change or modify or you might say to them growing out of your experience in the early years of your marriage?

Well, I would just say that the more you can connect spiritually with your spouse, the better, because when Christ is the foundation of your relationship, there is nothing sweeter. So our first few years of being married were actually a honeymoon. We had the best time.

It was incredible. And I think the reason for that was that really Jesus was the foundation of our relationship. He's the one that started it and we were able to serve him together and just kind of continue that on.

I think when marriage got tough for us was when we had our first child and that was when the honeymoon kind of really ended. But yeah, I think anything you can do to keep that spiritual intimacy strong, you know, praying together, reading the word together, serving together, those are the things that really sweeten a relationship. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times best seller "The 5 Love Languages" . Find simple ways to strengthen relationships at buildingrelationships.us. There you'll see more about our guests, Matt and Allison Willis, and their book Master Life Together, a Discipleship Experience for Small Groups.

Just go to buildingrelationships.us. Before the break, we were talking about your marriage in the early days. And we know that a little later, the two of you went to South Asia and served as missionaries. How many children did you have when you went there?

And what were some of the struggles you may have faced there on the mission field? When we moved to South Asia in 2009, we had a one and a half year old son and a two month old daughter. And then our third child was born there in the country as well. And we struggled with so many things there. I joke that we lived there for forty nine years because missionary years, they are like dog years. So it was only seven years in reality, but it felt like forty nine years. And I think part of that was a language barrier. I remember at the very beginning not knowing any of the language. I felt like a little kid when I'd go into a shop and I didn't know my numbers yet.

And so I would just give them more money than was necessary and just hope he gave me the right amount of change back. It was just very humbling. And I remember in our first year, we struggled with how hot it was and how the electricity would go out every day, multiple times per day. And that affected not only our air conditioning, but also our relationships with family members back in America, because we'd be talking with them on our Sabbath over the Internet and the power would go out in the middle of our conversation.

And we had no other way to talk except to wait until the next day. And so I think part of the way that we managed through those struggles was taking a Sabbath off from work on Saturdays where we just focused on our relationships with God and our family. A couple other challenges we faced were conflict with another missionary family, spiritual warfare, and even mental health issues that we had never previously experienced. I think it's because we were taking the gospel of Christ to places where some people had never even heard the name of Jesus before. And I believe Satan opposed us as much as possible, but our greatest solution was our intimacy with Jesus. In fact, our family has a vision statement that we put up on the wall in our house and it says this, to daily be intimate with Jesus Christ through loving, obeying and surrendering to Him.

So we do our best to live out that vision statement every day. You know, I think a lot of folks who have never had a close relationship with a missionary really don't realize how shocking it all is when you go there and they don't know the language and don't know the culture and all of that. Alison, looking back on that, what did living in a foreign country like that and serving there, what impact did that have on your marriage? Did it strengthen your marriage or how would you describe that part of it? Yeah, I think it's hard for me to answer that question because it's hard to separate the circumstances that we were in from living in a foreign country.

We had such little kids when we moved there, a two month old, a toddler, and we were living in a really tough place. So I would say that our marriage probably was strengthened more than anything because we were really forced to depend on the Lord because He was all we had. And so I think we leaned more into relationship with each other and even relationship with the other missionaries that we served alongside because there was really no other support. We had to. And so I think another thing that was helpful for our marriage was just the slower pace of life in South Asia.

People are not just busy all the time there. There's not just this flurry of activity that we've experienced now in our marriage since we've moved back to the States. And I think that slower pace really, really helped us that we had more margin to connect with each other and to really prioritize relationships rather than activities. So and I think one other aspect that was really strengthening for our marriage was just the fact that we were there serving together and we had the same purpose of like, this is what God has called us to is to serve together here.

And so just having that same purpose within our marriage, I think was really, really helpful. Let's turn the page and talk about your granddad because he plays a part in the book we're going to discuss today. His name was Avery Willis and some of our listeners may remember that name. He was a pioneer in missions and discipleship. And some of our listeners have probably gone through the discipleship material that he produced a number of years ago called Master Life.

Tell us a little bit about your granddad's life and legacy. My granddad, he really surrendered to Jesus as Lord of his life when he was in college. He decided that he was either going to be a nominal, ordinary, mediocre Christian for the rest of his life or he was going to truly be a disciple. And he was really impacted by what one of D.L. Moody's friends had said to him, which was, it remains to be seen what God will do with a man who gives himself up wholly to him.

And D.L. Moody's response was, well, I'll be that man. And that so impacted my granddad, Avery, that it ended up becoming part of the title for his biography that his daughter, Sherry, wrote, I aim to be that man. How God used the ordinary life of Avery Willis Junior. He went on in his adulthood to plant churches in the United States. He was a missionary for many years in Indonesia. He was an author and also a really well-known leader within global missions.

So very thankful for his life and legacy on me and countless other people. Matt, I think I have shared this with you, but I met your granddad when he was releasing that original discipleship program called Master Life. And never forget to sitting there in the audience, listening to him talk about this and challenging people to discipleship and talking to him afterwards. Just so impressed with his passion for discipleship.

And so, you know, when you came on our staff, I felt a little kinship to you already because of my contact with him way back then. Now, Allison, you and Matt have co-authored a simplified revision of that material that was called Master Life. And the title of the new title is Master Life Together, A Discipleship Experience for Small Groups. What led you and Matt to write this Master Life Together? Well, we had actually been taking a small group through the original material and we were finding that it was just very kind of laborious for people in this day and age that, you know, it seemed like it wasn't going to be very reproducible, yet we had this really strong desire to carry on, steward the legacy of discipleship that Matt's granddad had begun. And we felt like God was just calling us to kind of revise this material so that we could see the future generations discipled. And you know, as we were just praying about that, we felt like the Lord was telling us to move ahead and we just got nothing but the go-ahead from LifeWay and we were just thankful we really saw the favor of the Lord, you know, and our goal in writing this was, you know, we want to see the Great Commission completed in our lifetime. And you know, our life mission statement is based off of that and it's to grow as disciples and make disciples of Jesus Christ of the least reached people. And you know, that's why we served as missionaries in South Asia, where there's the greatest concentration of lostness on earth, you know, and so we felt like, you know, this would be a great way that God was leading us to continue to make disciples. So Matt, how does it feel to be extending your granddad's legacy in disciple-making?

I'm very grateful for the opportunity. My granddad took me when I was a teenager to Cuba to train church planters and pastors in his Master Life material. And just great to see what you saw as well when you met him, that he's the same man behind closed doors that he is everywhere else. And I'm glad that we had the opportunity to do some ministries together since I was his oldest grandchild, such as co-authoring a book published by NAFPRESS that's called Learning to Soar, How to Grow Through Transitions and Trials. And he said something to me before he passed away in 2010 that has really stuck with me. And I know this will mean a lot to you, having been an author and speaker. He said the only direct ministry you'll have after you die is what's been recorded.

And I've seen that lived out because even after his death, his written Master Life material was effectively discipling me further when I went through it with a group for the first time at our church a few years ago. Yeah, I think it's interesting, you know, when we can build upon the ministry of those who went before us, it's really, it's exciting. Now, Allison, you alluded earlier to the desire to make this discipleship program more friendly maybe to today's culture.

What were some of the issues that you wanted to deal with when the two of you upgraded, as it were, this Master Life program? Well, I think, you know, our culture has become much faster paced than it was back when Master Life was first written. I think people are more distracted. And people are less, less prone to making longer term commitments. So one of the things that we did was to shorten the process.

So what used to be four books and took 28 weeks is now one book, and takes 12 weeks. So that was one of the big things we did. Another thing that we did was really adding in some topics that we feel are very important and relevant in our culture right now. So we have a lesson on, you know, your gender, and what does it look like to follow Jesus with the gender he gave you, we have a topic of sexuality, we included talking about technology and, you know, some resources on screen addiction and some resources on body image. So you know, we we really tried to address some things that while they were still, you know, necessary back then have really gained in importance, I think for us to talk about those things in regards to discipleship, you know, we really wanted this to be a resource that would allow people to see what it looks like to follow Jesus with every single part of you, you know, your, your spirit, your soul, your mind, your will, your emotions, and with your body, you know, what you're consuming, what you're the way that you were made, what you're what you look like, how you use your body, those things, you know, I think are really important, but definitely under addressed in discipleship circles. So we really wanted to speak to those things.

You know, I think our listeners can readily see why this revision of that material fits more into our culture, solidly based on the scriptures, as was the original, but dealing with some topics in a more open way than maybe would have been dealt with, you know, 30-40 years ago. Matt, now, some people hear the word disciple, and they kind of get intimidated. They feel like, well, a disciple, I mean, that's kind of a higher class of person, you know, special class, I don't know if I want to be one of those.

But what do you say to that person? I'd say a disciple is simply someone who's a learner and a follower. In reality, everyone's a disciple of someone. So why not let that someone primarily be Jesus? In Luke 9-23, it says that Jesus said to them all, if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. I think that Jesus calls every Christian to be a disciple, and honestly, I feel kind of sad for Christians who are missing out on the adventure of discipleship. He invites everyone to this. So let's go on for the ride.

Yeah, that's good, I fully agree with that one. Allison, how do you define discipleship, and how are your relationships with God and people essential to discipleship? So discipleship is a personal love relationship with Jesus Christ experienced a lifelong journey of obedience. We think, you know, discipleship means knowing Jesus being his disciple and doing what he tells us to do, and doing it in community with other believers.

You know, we think that a lot of discipleship today tends to be very knowledge based, and you know, that has its limits. I think, you know, knowing is part of following Christ. You know, we have to believe who he says he is, but it's also obeying him, and it's also just loving him. You know, we feel like the highest form of discipleship is loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. You know, that's what he tells us in Mark 1230. And then he says, the second greatest command is this, love your neighbor as yourself, you know. And so God really calls us to love him and then to love others, and that's really what discipleship is, is loving him and following him, doing what he says, you know, and it's a lifelong process.

You know, we never get there. We continue to be able to grow in that, and so, you know, this is one tool that can help in that endeavor. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times best seller "The 5 Love Languages" . We're talking with Matt and Allison Willis today about an exciting study for small groups. It's titled Master Life Together, and you can find out more at buildingrelationships.us.

You can hear our conversation again, or suggest it to someone else right there at buildingrelationships.us. You know, Matt and Allison, I just want to emphasize as we begin this segment, the value of being in a small discipleship group. You know, I really feel for people who only, their own exposure is when they go to church on Sunday morning and hear the sermon. Now, I'm not putting down the sermon, I'm a pastor myself, you know, preaching is important. But if you're not in a discipleship group where you're sharing life with each other and learning and encouraging each other, chances are you're missing out on a lot. What we're talking about today, this discipleship program is just a tool that any group of Christians can use. But let me say this, Matt, you know, as a pastor myself, I know that making disciples is at the heart of Jesus' great commission in Matthew 28.

He said, go make disciples. But let's face it, pastors have a thousand things to do each week. And often disciple making kind of gets put on the back burner. What role do pastors play in making disciples? Well, like you said, teaching and preaching is part of that, but that only makes disciples to an extent. I think disciple making really requires time and intentionality. Jesus didn't have 5,000 disciples.

He had 12 primary ones. And so even pastors, even though they're in vocational full-time ministry, they can only deeply invest in a few people at a time. And so that's going to require a pastor or anyone who's discipling people to spend time listening to the disciples talk to so that you can help be most relevant to their needs and spend some time doing ministry together. Unfortunately, most Christians say that no one has ever discipled them. My prayer is that many pastors will use master life together personally and throughout their church. I would say that content alone is not enough to make disciples, and that would be true even for our own material. It's meant to be experienced in small groups with obeying God's word and being held accountable to growth. Well, you know, Matt and Allison, this radio program is called Building Relationships.

And it strikes me that that's exactly what you're calling people to do. What are the key ingredients to making disciples? Well, I think accountability is one of the key parts that, you know, discipleship really does happen in community. You know, we have to have accountability that we are, we're doing what Jesus calls us to do. We're, you know, spending time with Him.

We're going out and sharing Him with others around us. We are, you know, handling conflict in a godly way within our homes and within our workplaces and with our neighbors and things like that. And I think, you know, that's a key part of master life together is just for groups to come together and have that accountability, have that intentionality, to be able to speak into each other's lives and to be able to, you know, speak the truth in love because we all need that, you know?

Yeah. Yeah, one thing that I would add to that is we intentionally put a few weeks at the end of our material of practical things for people to do in relationship with each other that don't have the lessons beyond those 12 weeks. And I think that's really important because modeling ministry is important in discipleship. So it's not just what we learn, it's also what we do. And one of the ways that I have found most helpful is an acronym called MAWL, M-A-W-L.

It stands for Model, Assist, Watch and Leave. That's what we're trying to do to make disciples. We're not just trying to finish a study and go on to the next study. We're trying to show people how to pray for an extended time with the Lord, how to use your spiritual gifts, how to share the gospel with people, and there's just this process that we want to equip people to not only be disciples, but to be lifelong disciple makers themselves. Yeah, the subtitle of Master Life Together is, and I'm quoting, discipleship experience for small groups. You put small groups in there intentionally. Allison, what would you say to someone who says to themselves, well, I want to read this just by myself and work through it by myself.

What would you say to them? Well, you certainly can. And I think there will still be a great growth in your personal relationship with Christ.

But I think you're going to miss out on so much more. Going through this process with other people, you're getting to experience the Lord at work in their lives. You're getting to learn from them. You're getting to hear from the Holy Spirit inside of them. Some of the things that we have in the material are things that you have to do in community. One of the activities is we spend time talking about how Jesus modeled washing each other's feet. And that's one of the things that we do together.

And that's an incredible experience that you can't wash someone's feet by yourself, and nobody can wash your feet without being present. So it's a really important part of the study. And one of the week's content is about Christ-centered community and how that's one of the spiritual disciplines that God has given us that keep us anchored in His love for us. Reading the Word is one, praying is one, witnessing to other people is one, and just being in community with other believers is one of those spiritual disciplines that's really an anchor. So this is really going to be a key component just for, I think, exponential growth is for you to go through this with a small group, and going through it just with a spouse would have some benefits for sure, just to increase spiritual intimacy there. But I think if you could bring another couple or two and do it as a small group of couples, I think that would be really, really powerful. One thing I would add to that is we think that this is so important that we spent an entire week in the material talking about the importance of Christ-centered community.

And like Allison said, if you're just doing this on your own, the foot washing is basically just taking a bath. You know, it'd be better to be serving other people here. Good point. You know, looking back on my own life, I feel like the times I have grown the most in my relationship with God and others is when I was in a small group study. I've been in many of those through the years, and this one in particular, I think, is just powerful. I hope our listeners are getting this because you can start a group, you know, yourself. But Matt, let me ask this, what's the difficulty in people committing to be a part of a group like this? You know, is it a time thing or what is it that makes it difficult for some people to get into a small group like this? Well, when I think of a small group, I usually think of it being two to 12 people that if it's more than that, I think that's a real challenge that people face because this can be for both existing groups and new groups. But if you're thinking of a traditional Sunday school class and it's already 30 people, well, that doesn't really facilitate much discussion to hear from every member.

There's just simply not enough time. So in a situation like that, I would just recommend that if they have 30 people that for a short season, they temporarily meet as three different small groups. Another thing that I think is a challenge is that many Bible studies and Sunday school classes and home groups have is that they require nothing of believers except coming once every week or two. And our material has guided quiet times for five days per week that take about 20 minutes per day, and people have to memorize scriptures and apply some things during the week. So if that's the case, that someone's wanting to lead their existing small group through this material, I think they need to communicate higher expectations if they're not already having things to do during the week. You really get out of it what you put into it, and that does require you to be vulnerable with the other people in your group. And the last thing that I would say is that the duration could scare some people if they're used to doing just six-week studies.

This full process of Master Life Together takes 18 weeks, as opposed to 28 weeks of my granddad's classic material, but it can be reduced down to 12 weeks if needed. I think you're making good points, Matt, on that, and I just hope that our listeners are beginning to sense at least how we all, at least the three of us, and I think many, many other Christians agree, so important to be in a small group that has the qualities that you're talking about. It's not just somebody talking to us in a class and we're just listening again.

We're involved in it, and we're involved in doing things throughout the week as well. Matt, talk about the importance of scripture memory. You mentioned it just now, but what's the value of that, and how is that a mark of being a disciple?

Well, we think it's valuable enough we spent an entire day in the material on it, and that's also one of the things that people loved about the original material. I've heard so many people give testimony that when I went through Master Life, that's when I started memorizing scripture, and I think there are multiple reasons why it's good as a mark of a disciple, but here's two primary reasons. Number one, to know God more intimately, because Jesus said in John 15, 7, if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

The second thing I would say is it increases obedience and decreases sin by resisting temptation. Psalm 119.11 says, I've hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. The Psalmist didn't say, I've hidden your word on my bookshelf, or I've got the app on my phone where I have God's word, but he said, I've hidden it in my heart that I might not sin against you. I've always found it in how Jesus said in John 14, 26, that the Holy Spirit who will come in my name will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you. And that begs the question for me, how can the Holy Spirit remind you of something Jesus said if you never learned it in the first place? And so I think when people memorize scripture, there's different situations that people are in and the Holy Spirit reminds you of a certain verse that you're able to speak to someone else or act on. And so we ask people in this material to memorize a specific Bible verse each week and to recite it when the group comes together.

And so I know that I personally have been blessed so much by the verses I've memorized over the years, and I just want other people to experience that same blessing. Thanks for joining us today for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. You can find simple ways to strengthen relationships at our website, buildingrelationships.us. You can also find out about our featured resource, the book by Matt and Allison Willis titled Master Life Together, a Discipleship Experience for Small Groups. Just go to buildingrelationships.us.

That's buildingrelationships.us. Before the break, we were talking about scripture memory. And I just want to reiterate, Matt, and agree with you on what you said. Years ago, I started memorizing scripture, just key verses.

And what you said is really true. God brings those verses back in times when you need them. You need to hear the Word of God. So I'm really glad that that's a part of this discipleship program. Another thing is prayer. Prayer is a struggle for many Christians. Allison, does this study help a person progress in their prayer life?

And if so, how? Well, we certainly pray that it will. Yeah, we spend a whole week talking about prayer. And I don't know if we mentioned this before, but you know, the study is based on, you know, people spending about 15 to 20 minutes alone with the Lord each day reading through a passage in the scripture and kind of journaling over that passage and then just reading a little bit of content where we talk about that passage and then we're able to ask some important questions that the reader would be able to answer as they're reflecting on their relationship with God.

A lot of the questions that we ask are very vulnerable and questions that make you really have to be vulnerable and authentic with the Lord and with your group as well. And yeah, we have a whole week on the topic of prayer. And one of the tools that we talk about and give people is, you know, something called a prayer notebook that has been something Matt and I have used for years where, you know, it's just a way for us to remember to pray for specific things on a daily basis. We, you know, have things that we pray for every day, some things that we pray for once a week, some things that we pray for monthly, and then of course, you know, new things that come up. So this is a way to keep track of those and stay accountable for actually praying, you know, and it's been just a real blessing for us.

So we're hoping that that tool is something that many more people can discover. Matt, you mentioned earlier that John 15 seven passage, you know, where Jesus said, if my words abide in you, you ask what you wish and I'll give it to you. A lot of people, you know, heard through the years, they'll say, well, I asked God to do this and I asked God to do that and God didn't do it.

And they get discouraged in their prayer life. How does that verse in particular fit into kind of an answer to that question? Well, I really like a quote from Tim Keller that talks about this. He said, when you ask something of God, he will either give you what you ask or he will give you what you would have asked for if you knew everything he knows. I think that's so profound because he is always going to give according to his will. And it's true that we don't fully understand his will, but the more we abide in scripture and apply it in our lives, the more we do. Here's the other verse, I think it's Psalm 37 four, that if you delight yourself in the Lord, he'll give you the desires of your heart. And I think the real secret to that is that our desires start merging with God's desires, that if we would want the things that God wants, then he's going to be able to give according to what he already wanted to give in the first place. Yeah, I guess the best example of that is Christ himself, right? In the garden, he said, Father, if there's any other way, let this pass from me. He's talking about the cross and his death, but he ends by saying, nevertheless, not what I'm thinking and feeling right now, I want your will to be done. And that's the heart of a true disciple, right?

Yeah, that's right. Now, what are people saying who have gone through this small group experience? What kind of feedback have you got? Well, one of the things we've done, other than just listening to the people who have been through the material with us, because my wife and I are currently leading a group through this material and we're going to lead another one as soon as this one finishes.

But the other way to look is on Amazon, when I go on there and can see people's reviews and it's been really positive. There was one that I thought summed it up pretty well. There's a guy named Tommy on there. He said, Master Life Together has blessed my wife and I in so many ways. It is the perfect resource to mature in your faith while truly living out the gospel on a daily basis. It's not just checking the box, but a lifelong discipleship journey that provides focus, motivation, encouragement and accountability. There's other people I've heard from there on Amazon that say that they became more comfortable with being an open Christian or that scripture reading wasn't as intimidating to them or other people found a way to share God's message in love with people and multiply. Others were just really encouraging, saying this is a really replicable process that new and experienced believers can benefit from. I'm glad to hear people saying that because that was the intent of why we did this. We want this to be simple enough that it can be reproduced.

Some of the same people who were in our original Master Life group that said, I don't know people who are willing to give 28 weeks to this in-depth content, once we wrote Master Life Together, they went on to start groups using that material. I think that's great that it's just taking down some of those walls of complexity and makes it easier to pass along to other people. That's what we hope, not only in the United States, but with our international experience and heart for missions. We're thankful that this is being translated into many other languages as we speak.

It's going to be available in Spanish in published form in October. So we're really looking forward to it getting over the language and culture barriers in a way that's accessible for anyone. Matt and Alison, I am excited about this material, and I believe that God is going to use this in a great way. I just want to say to our listeners, you know, maybe you're already in a small group. If so, then it's just a matter of deciding what time do we want to do this particular discipleship experience. To those of you that maybe have never been in a group and you say, well, I don't know how to do this. You don't have to have a gift of teaching to call some friends together and say, hey, I've heard about this, but it's helped many, many other people. Would you guys be interested and pull together a handful of people that you already know?

Who knows what could happen, but I can almost guarantee you if people go through this experience in these 12 weeks or 18 weeks, depending on whatever you choose to do, it's going to stimulate personal growth with God and with the people in that group. So I just am super, super excited about it. Well, as we come toward the end of our program, Matt, do you have any final encouragement you want to give to listeners or Allison, if you want to say any final words, that'd be fine too.

Yeah. I appreciate you mentioning that point about facilitating not just needing to be a teacher to do this. We put a leader's guide in the back of the book that makes it really simple and have questions to ask during the group time.

And so hopefully that makes it really easy for anyone to lead it. And it doesn't have to be daunting, like we said, with a dozen people, it could just be one or two people you're going through this with. But to the person listening, I want to say thank you for giving us this opportunity to share our life's passion and resource with you today. I'm really grateful to you all interviewing us on the Building Relationships Program as well, because our resources, 12 lessons, are actually organized into four sections based on relationships. The first section was your relationship with God. The second is your relationship with your inner self. The third is your relationship with others.

And the fourth is your relationship with the world. And the last thing I would say is we'd love to have conversations with you. The best way that you could probably do that is to follow Master Life Together, a discipleship experience for small groups on either Facebook or Instagram, and we'd love to get your messages there and respond.

Very good. Thanks for being with us today, and I'm praying that God will use this in a powerful way, not only locally, but around the world, as you mentioned earlier. So again, thanks for being with us today. Thank you, Dr. Chapman.

Thank you so much for having us. Find out more about Master Life Together at buildingrelationships.us. It's a discipleship experience for small groups by Matt and Allison Willis. Go to buildingrelationships.us. If your heart aches for an adult child who's left the faith, don't miss a conversation with Mary DeMute.

That's coming up in one week. A big thank you to our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Backing. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in Chicago in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-04 03:41:02 / 2023-03-04 03:58:58 / 18

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