Interview With Rev. Hal Perkins
Rev. Hal Perkins is the author of several books including Walk With Me, If Jesus Were A Parent and Discipled by Jesus. After 40 years of pastoral ministry, Hal and his wife, Debbi, now travel the country helping people make disciples that will make disciples.
We had an opportunity to sit and talk at the General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene. Here is our conversation.
JTF (Jim the Follower): What are three or four marks of spiritual maturity?
Hal: First, I would say the heart. What I mean is a holy resolve to know Jesus. Living with the fruit of loving and trusting Jesus entirely. We see this in a holy resolve to love Jesus with all heart, soul, mind, and strength all the time in every circumstance. To live and think and talk all for Jesus and to have our only acceptable motive to be FOR JESUS. This is a holy resolve to trust Jesus with all our heart.
It is a passionate resolve to walk by great faith in peace and joy and to be bold and visionary in our daily walk with him. When we have this holy resolve, fear, worry, doubt, sight-walking, selfishness, indifference to Jesus or people is not okay!
Second, would be our lifestyle. A spiritually mature person passionately prioritizes spiritual disciplines and discipline. It becomes absolutely essential to be discipled, to develop the good fruit of character, to be involved in ministry, and spiritual reproduction.
Third, is an achieving of the ultimate: The two are One. Vision is now sight. What I imagined I might become, I am becoming. It means I read and apply passages like in John 5, 8, 12 to be like Jesus, with the attitude of nothing apart from the Father – do nothing, say nothing, judge nothing independently, but always dependently. This is a constant and continual seeking of the Father’s will and then carrying out that will.
This is described so well in 1 Thess. 5:16-24. There is so much there but some highlights would be to pray continually, rejoice always, give thanks in everything, bring every thought captive into obedience and be holy as Jesus is holy.
JTF: Thanks, Hal. That’s so good. So, what are the three or four most important spiritual disciplines?
Hal: Time. Everything in our lives asks us for time. But we must discipline ourselves to give time to be discipled by discipler. Find a coach to train and disciple you to follow Jesus. This coach watches, listens, trains, commits, and provides accountability. So there are commitments with accountability for moment by moment relationship with Jesus – being led by holy and powerful words and acts. We must be dependent, humble, passionate, persistent, intentional, measurable, accountable and have disciplined strategies to live and do what we resolved to do.
Next: time to be discipled by Jesus. To nurture a relationship on four key things:
Intimate knowledge, complete accountability, unconditional love and unwavering trust.
Then: Scheduled time and plan to make disciples: care for, feed, and lead others just as you have been. Priorities for this must be clear: first family, then Church to make disciples and disciplemakers, finally friends to disciple – to teach them all to relate to Jesus as He deserves and desires.
Finally, time for traditional disciplines (retreats, silence, fasting, public worship, reading, etc.)
JTF: How do you fit the important spiritual disciplines into a busy schedule?
Hal: You have got to calendar your priorities.
First, clear your schedule of everything. Then place your priorities on your schedule starting with priority one. Everyone can do this. But what you have to be careful to do is to ensure you keep those top priorities. For example, when there is a conflict on your calendar and something urgent comes up you don’t replace your priority 2 item or your priority 4 item, rather a priority 16 item!
You must love and trust Jesus enough to want time with Him and know if you are seeking first his Kingdom, He will care for the rest.
JTF: What is the value of small groups for the follower of Jesus?
Hal: Groups have different goals, strategies, leaders, clientele. And each is as good or as bad as the leader, whether that leader is a formal and informal. But, generally there are many values to being in a small group: love one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, teach one another.
Very unusual to walk the narrow way (follow Jesus) without comrades who hold same values and commitments. Smal groups share common values, common commitments and skills, common faith, common accountability and a common language.
The value of small groups (bands of growing disciples) I seek to multiply:
They are discipled by Jesus in Spirit, Word and Body. So I want them to know Jesus by answering the question that he asked: “Who do you say I am?”
Then, to see Jesus at work, by answering the question: “Do you understand what I have done?” There is an accounting for relationship (what he has done in you), encouraging others (what he has done through you) and thanksgiving (what he has done for you).
Next, I want to encourage my group to hear Jesus – to listen to the Word of God and hear his voice through his Word (the Bible). The question is: “What is Jesus saying to you?”
Next, I want my group to learn to love and serve Jesus. Jesus asked Peter and he asks us, too, “Do you love me more than these?” (John 21) When we respond, yes, he responds with: “Feed my sheep – in other words, serve me, serve my purposes, make disciples, help others follow me.”
Finally, and this is crucial, I want group members to believe: Jesus asked: “Do you believe that I can do this?” When you believe, as Jesus said, all things are possible. When we affirm belief in Jesus, we can boldly do things we didn’t think possible like: Training to be and make disciples who are discipled by Jesus alone, one on one, discipled by Jesus all day, and making disciplemakers.
JTF: I know that is a lot to absorb. You’ve written a whole book about this (Discipled by Jesus). Now, what are the keys to consistency in a daily walk?
Hal: Everything we have talked about so far, plus a commitment to corporate worship, fellowship, and coaching others.
JTF: Finally, Dr. Jim Diehl (General Superintendent Emeritus, Church of the Nazarene) asked this question, and it is a question that really concerns not just the Church of the Nazarene but, in general the church in the United States as a whole: What can the church do to reverse our stagnant attendance numbers?
Hal: Not to be too flippant, but all of the above. We have to be discipled by Jesus and make disciples of Jesus!
Hal and Debbi Perkins continue to make disciples. They have been an inspiration and a source of practical guidance for thousands! Check out their website!
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