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Abide (Part 1)

Abide (Part 1)

OCTOBER 1, 2021  |  19 MINUTE LISTEN
HOSTS: CONNOR OWEN & JOHN RINEHIMER
GUEST:
BILLY COPPEDGE


Listen on Spotify, Apple, and Google

Episode Overview

Abiding is the dynamic and life-giving process of remaining in Jesus. What is keeping us from abiding in the life of Jesus, though? Are we as a culture too distracted, and what about Gen Z specifically? We believe that abiding is more than one spiritual discipline but is a way of life. This topic will be one that we talk about many times, but on this episode, we're going to introduce abiding, the reason for it, and what keeps us from doing it. 

Guest

Billy Coppedge and his wife, Joanna, along with their five kids, have been missionaries with WGM in Uganda since 2006. They are passionate about exploring how to use oral storytelling of the Bible in the church's pastoral training program to see transformational change in people's lives, marriages, and families. Everyone loves a story, and they have found storytelling to be a powerful tool for communicating the Gospel within many African contexts. Because of their children, they have had many doors opened to them to work with the next generation in Uganda. 

Show Notes
Read the Script

Connor: Welcome to The Approach, where we help you walk with the next generation as they seek to use their gifts and talents and experiences to journey with Jesus and participate in the Great Commission. On this microcast, we want to give you a snapshot of the next generation and provide you with tools to disciple, empower, and pray for the next generation whether you're a parent, teacher, coach, mentor, or friend.

My name is Connor Owen and I'm joined by John Rinehimer, and we serve on staff at WGM. John's currently working on his PhD, and he's going to provide us with some insights and observations about Gen Z that are going to help us as we walk with this next generation. On this episode, we are going to talk about abiding—and look, we realize this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this topic. Before we talk about that though, John, what do you think keeps us from abiding?

John:  Well, yeah, Connor, you're right, this is a huge topic. But let me ask a question first. The last time you were standing in line for coffee or whatever, what was probably almost everybody doing? Probably on their phones. Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. Yeah, exactly. You've done it, I've done it. It seems like everybody, that's just a really common thing. And I've just noticed it seems like we've become addicted to distraction. I recently read that the typical cell phone user will touch their phone over 2600 times every day. Every stroke of your thumb, you're texting or swiping something. And Gen Z, they've just grown up with this. They've grown up with distractions constantly competing for their attention, and it's shaping their hearts and their desires.

I've even heard, now you may think this isn't true, but I've heard this, that some Gen Z'ers even will shower with their phones for fear of missing out. And there's actually a name for this, I think I'm saying it right, nomophobia. It's the fear of being without your phone.

Connor: Okay. So I can relate to the distraction part. I can't really relate to the whole showering with my phone thing.

John: I don't believe you.

Connor: But I guess what this makes me wonder is how does all of these factors—the constant distractions, the constant messaging you're getting from your phones—how does that shape and all of these competing factors, how does that shape Gen Z, and how does that affect their walk with Jesus? And then what do we do with that information?

John: Yeah. Let me say this, too, before I sound like some old guy who is really against technology: I do love technology. I don't think screens are inherently evil or bad. I believe there's value in use of technology to build relationships and connections for sure. But my point is, people are just generally spending more time on screens and technology and less time building face-to-face relationships. God made us for relationships, and that's where this whole abiding thing comes in. I was trying to explain this, abiding, to my kids the other day. And I took them out in the backyard thinking I'd have this great dad moment, and “Here's a fruit tree, kids, and Jesus is the vine and we're the branches,” the whole thing. And they just looked at me and they said, "So, we just hang there?" Basically implying, This seems really boring, Dad.

I have to admit, abiding at a very surface level could seem a bit boring and maybe even like static and stale. But actually I think, biblically, it's just the complete opposite. It's dynamic, and it's life-giving. Abiding is all about staying connected to Jesus, which brings life-giving relationships.

I love how New Testament scholar Michael Gorman says it: "Abiding is a relationship of profound dependence." And so abide, probably in your Bible and I know some of mine, it's translated sometimes as remain. Remain in. So abiding is significant for Gen Z because I believe they, and all of us, we run the risk of distractions becoming the narrative of our life. And so if we can help Gen Z learn to abide in Christ, the life of the Spirit will fill and form their lives so that they will find their identity in Him.

Connor: So I think the question becomes now, John, is, am I too distracted? And am I missing out on abiding because of all of those distractions? And what about the Gen Z-er in my life, in your life, in our listeners' lives? Are they too distracted, and is that causing them to not be able to abide in Christ?

Well, now we want to invite you to join us as we pray over Gen Z, that together we can learn how to abide and just be intentional about what gets our attention. We've asked Billy Coppedge, WGM missionary in Uganda, to lead us in prayer. And the importance of abiding is really close to Billy's heart, and we're so grateful to have him join us today.

Billy: “Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, 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 bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing.” John 15, verses 4 and 5.

Father, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit, we want to come to you today, and we want to lift up Generation Z. And the concern on our heart today is that they would abide in you. Jesus, I think of verse 9. It says you say to your disciples, “Abide in my love as I abide in my Father's love.”

And so Jesus, we want to just pray today with the men and women of Generation Z. Would they abide in your love? Could they find their home? Would there be a place of rest in your love? And for them to abide in you and for them to make their home in you, they need to know you. So Jesus, we pray that the young men and young women of Generation Z would come to know you, they'd come to know you and that then they could actually find a space to rest in the love of your Father, and it would be a coming home.

And we've talked about distractions today. Lord, we know how hard it is for us to settle, for our bodies to settle, for our hearts to settle, for our imaginations to just kind of come to a point of rest. All of us need that, and you know how much Generation Z needs that. And I think it's helpful, not a place of kind of static just being in a position of pause, but a place of coming home, of being able to just be at peace. And I think that's at the heart of what you're getting at in John 15.

So we pray that for Generation Z. Would you bring the men and women of Generation Z to a place of peace? Because they know Jesus Christ and could they actually receive, be open to the love of God the Father. Holy Spirit you know there are so many things that people put up as barriers, as obstacles, as hindrances to the love of God the Father, and whether it's abusive fathers, whether it's absent fathers, whether it's... I don't know, but you do, all the ways that fatherhood has been misunderstood by Generation Z. Jesus, you come to heal our understanding of who our godly, good, heavenly Father is so we can abide in His love.

Could you bring healing to the men and women of Generation Z so their understanding of God the Father can be healed, repaired, restored, and made whole? And they actually can begin to feel at home in the presence of their heavenly Father. Lord, like us, like so many of us, Gen Z needs to know some of the correction of a good father. Lord, could you do that gently? But they also need to know the joy and the laughter and the pleasure and the delight that you find in them, like a good father finds in his children.

So Father, bring your correction, but also bring your pleasure and your delight and your love to bear on every young man and on every young woman in Gen Z. Now they don't just need to know they're at home, but then they want to participate. We want them to know what it is to participate in your life, to participate in the love of the Father, the Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. And we want them to remain, to stay present to your love, amidst the distraction, amidst the fear, amidst the chaos and the assault on their hearts and on their bodies and on their imaginations and on their relationships. Holy Spirit, could you hold them steady? Could you hold them? Keep them present to your love.

One of the ways that we can stay present is to obey, and I know for so many of us, and perhaps even more so for those in Gen Z, obedience comes with such heavy tones of kind of obligation or authority, or I don't know what else, but there's kind of an internal resistance to that. Spirit of God, would you show us the joy and the beauty and the freedom of obeying your instructions? And the fact that your instructions for us are good, and you are for us. You're for Gen Z. God, could you remind us of that today? Could that inform our prayers, that you are for all of those that we love and know and are carrying in this generation?

We want them to know what it means to rest in your love, heavenly Father. We want them to be open to the freedom that comes from obeying your instructions, your good instructions. Lord Jesus, you command in that passage in John 15 abiding leads to fruitfulness. Father, we believe with all of our hearts for the kingdom of God to come throughout the world, in the United States, in North America and beyond to the lost, to the dying, to the four corners of the globe, we need a generation, a Gen Z, that is awakened and is bearing fruit.

And it's interesting, you seem to be interested in much fruit, not little fruit, not meager fruit, not small fruit. You are lots of fruit. We want Gen Z to be a part of that. In fact, more than that, we believe for there to be much fruit in the kingdom of God, we have to have the men and women of Gen Z involved, and not casually, not on Sunday mornings, not on Wednesday nights, but actively engaging, participating in the life of God so that then they know your life and your love for them and they're willing to offer your life and your love into the relationships that they're involved in.

God, would you awaken Gen Z so that out of abiding in your love, Father, out of obeying your instructions, there would be a great harvest of fruitfulness and it wouldn't come from a spirit of obligation or “I have to,” but it would come from the gentle leading of your Holy Spirit, calling men and women and Gen Z out into the world, out into their communities, into their own families and offering the life of God, the love of God, the light of God that they have experienced.

So we're praying today that those that are on our hearts, those that we don't even know in Gen Z, that they could know you intimately and well and there would be such a security in your love that then there will be a great... a spirit of generosity and they would be willing to offer that love into every relationship that they're a part of. Every embodied and personal relationship they're a part of and every virtual relationship they're a part of. And you would give them creativity and innovation to know what it means to share the life of God with those around them.

We want to say thank you, Lord Jesus, that you make it possible for us to abide in your very life and in your very love. And so we just pray, again, that those that are on our hearts this morning might know your love and your life in fresh, tangible, invisible ways even today. Jesus, only you can do this. Help us know what it means to love those in Gen Z well today. We pray all of this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Connor: Thanks so much for joining us today, Billy. We hope you're challenged by the importance of abiding, just like we are. This certainly is not the end of our discussion on this topic, as it really is a way of living life, and it's not just a part of life. So stick with us as we continue to go deeper into this topic in future episodes.

And thanks to all of you for joining us on The Approach, where we help you walk with the next generation as they seek to use their gifts and their talents and experiences to journey with Jesus and participate in the great commission. Next time we're going to be talking with Laura Needler about trust within Gen Z and how we can build that within them. Be sure to like and subscribe to us, and if you have any questions, email us at podcast@wgm.org.

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