Bunni’s Book Club: Discipleship Begins With Beholding by Samuel Whitefield
I love to read. Especially about my two favorite subjects — Jesus and Politics. People frequently ask me about my favorite books — so for a fun exercise, I am writing each month about some of the books I am reading — new releases, classics, books by friends, and books that have shaped me through the years. The Bible is always the most important book to read each day. Start with that — and then be fed by His Body through the wealth of books. Join my Book Club here at The Stream each month and discover some great books to empower you in modern America.
We can know every argument for the existence of God, understand all aspects of theology, be a high-functioning Christian leader, and be busy “making a difference in the world,” but that doesn’t mean we are a true disciple and that we are becoming Christlike. Look around at the carnage of Christians who are falling along the wayside into deception, hopelessness, or immorality after years of supposedly “walking with God.”
There is something wrong with our discipleship.
Discipleship Begins with Beholding
The truth is this: We can only be transformed by getting hold of Jesus daily. We can only get the true knowledge of God by revelation, and revelation only comes from slowing down, stopping and beholding the beauty of Jesus.
Samuel Whitefield in his 2020 book — Discipleship Begins with Beholding — captured my heart with a vision of knowing God deeper the first time I read this book.
I am re-reading it now as preparation for what I know is going to be a turbulent year (2024) and my heart is coming alive with anticipation and faith knowing God is going to reveal Himself to me in new ways even in a year when I know myself and the Body of Christ is going to be pushed on every side.
Can I voice my frustrations out loud of my dissatisfaction with the shallowness of the church world currently?
Can I voice the pain I am feeling as people I have looked up to as leaders, even in the prayer movement, seem to be falling apart?
Can I truly communicate the tiredness and angst I have felt over the last few months as I have poured my life into ministry busyness and productivity — only to feel exhausted by it all?
I don’t know about you, but I need a real Jesus who is alive, worthy of worshipping, larger than my life and abilities and yearning and desiring me to stop everything and just look at Him.
Discipleship is the main task of the Church, but do we know what it is and how we do it?
The main text of Samuel’s book is 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Unpacking this Truth in an Impactful Package
Starting out, the author takes us through the Israelites’ glorious encounter with God at Sinai, to the adventures that Paul had walking with God, to then raising our vision of what Christianity really is all about. Samuel takes the scriptures and unmasks them for the believer who is consumed with entertainment sources, a drive for success and significance and modern church systems that run us ragged with activities but have lost “the wonder” of God.
Passages such as this one in the introduction of the book casts a vision for more of God for me and brings a conviction that cuts to the heart of the Christian walk.
If we do not focus our lives on the revelation of God, we are out of sync with God’s primary purpose for the entire age. Furthermore, if we do not behold God, we do not know the image we are intended to become like. We are not called to be merely a ‘moral’ people.
In this beautiful book, Samuel lays a vision for beholding God, then moves into teaching about the desire of Jesus that fulfills us, corporate gatherings longing to touch the beauty of Jesus together, the power of singing and meditation and the real purposes of the Body of Christ. This man is an incredible writer who can articulate hard theological material into simple language that motivates a Christian wherever they are in their walk with God — to desire to go on a new journey of seeking God
Then comes his quick chapters on the simple devotions of prayer, fasting, worship, reading and meditation on scripture, and the fellowship of believers, but he paints these standard operating procedures for Christians in a way that makes us realize that ultimately when we are doing “the Christian thing” — we are really seeking a person. A person that is alive and loves us deeply. The person of Jesus.
Three subcategories walk the reader though this new revelation and teach us about the uncomplicated ways we can relate with God: 1) it begins with beholding, 2) a people who behold, and 3) how to behold.
We Were Created for Him
There is nothing in the world that gives me more pleasure and fills my soul more than talking about Jesus. Why? Because I was created to be fascinated by Him, to desire more of Him, and to walk to awaken love for Him in other people.
Being a disciple of Christ is not about a list of dos and don’ts.
Though when we know Him and behold Him, we are changed into His likeness.
Being a disciple of Christ is not about busyness and more places to go on our calendars.
Though when we get a taste of His goodness, we desire to be in His presence and around the other people that carry Him — His church.
Being a disciple of Christ is not about being a proselytizer and evangelist with everyone we meet and in every circumstance.
Though when we spend time with Him, beholding Him, He rubs off on us, gives us so much joy, that we just start opening our mouths naturally and share His gospel wherever we go.
Being a disciple of Christ is simply having a relationship with a God who desires to walk and talk with us, and wants us to know Him intimately.
Shifting our Focus in 2024
Seeing the Christian walk in the framework of an unlimited adventure of discovery and uncovering aspects of the nature and knowledge of God changes everything. It is no longer a religion that we adhere to, but a relationship that we crave that transforms us from the inside out.
In January in many of our church communities, we pause some of the normal activities for a greater emphasis on prayer, worship, and to many of us the thing we really hate — fasting. Instead of seeing these invitations by our church leaders as something we dread, take this next month as an invitation into discovery of more of God. Think deeply about the concept of beholding Jesus for the purpose of knowing Him and internal transformation.
Grab Samuel’s book — Discipleship Begins with Beholding — for a new vision of the Christian walk. Start your new Bible reading plan, slow down, pause, reflect, journal and look at Jesus. I believe this small realignment in your focus and daily viewing of life will radically shape your peace, joy, and effectiveness in 2024.
For me, I am planning on striving less and beholding Jesus more.
Bunni Pounds is president and founder of Christians Engaged — a ministry activating the Body of Christ to pray, vote, and engage regularly. Formerly a congressional candidate and 16-year political consultant, she is a motivational speaker and bible teacher. Her book — Jesus and Politics: One Woman’s Walk with God in a Mudslinging Profession comes out nationally on 2/6/24. Preorder it now.
Bunni is also the host of “Conversations With Christians Engaged,” seen here on The Stream each week — a podcast dedicated to helping believers continue walking in faith while navigating the muddy ways of politics and culture. Connect with her on Facebook @bunnipoundsTX, X — formerly known as Twitter @bunnipounds, Instagram @bunnipounds, or her personal website bunnipounds.com.