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MasterLife Book 1 – The Disciple’s Cross by Avery T.Willis, Jr.

Bible Study Review Details:

Title: The Disciple’s Cross (MasterLife Book 1)

Author: Avery T. Willis, Jr. and Kay Moore

Publisher: Lifeway Press, 1996 Original

Category: Bible Study, Discipleship

Reviewed By: Taresa Lutz, Christian blogger, Believer in Jesus Christ  (

Recommended? Highly

What is MasterLife?

My husband and I first ran across this study around 12 years ago at our church.  It was recommended that new believers in Jesus and new members of the church should attend this Bible Study.  It was about three years later that we actually started taking the class and later began to facilitate the class at our church.

MasterLife is a developmental, small-group discipleship process that will help you develop a lifelong, obedient relationship with Christ.  The goal is your discipleship.  For you to become like Christ.

The complete MasterLife study consists of four books.   Each book is a six to seven week study.  Therefore, the entire study consists of approximately 28 weeks of study.  When we lead the class we ask the group to commit to the entire study.

Christian Discipleship

MasterLife was designed to help you make Christian discipleship a way of life.   ‘Chrisitan Discipleship is developing a personal, lifelong, obedient relationship with Jesus Christ in which He transforms your character into Christlikeness; changes your values into Kingdom values; and involves you in His mission in the home, the church, and the world.’

Six Key Disciplines

As you develop a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, you will experience His leading you to develop six biblical disciplines of a disciple:

  • Spend time with the Master
  • Live in the Word
  • Pray in Faith
  • Fellowship with Believers
  • Witness to the world
  • Minister to Others

What do the classes consist of?

Each book builds on the other and is a recommended prerequisite for the one that follows. The group meets once a week.   Each book contains daily assignments for the class member.  There is also a weekly assignment as well.  There is also a weekly memory verse.  (These are very important.)

Discipleship is a relationship.  It is not something you do by yourself.  You need human models, instruction, and accountability.  This is what your leader or leaders will be to the class.  Christ, the group, and the church are vital for your discipling to take place.  Without the church, you lack the support you need to grow in Christ.

The class goes over the memory verses, and the daily lessons via discussion and assignments and class presentations.  Each week’s assignment includes elements of the six disciplines mentioned above.  There are some videos available which the leader may or may not use in the class.

Book 1 – The Disciple’s Cross

The following will give you a summary of what each week looks like in Book 1 – The Disciple’s Cross:

Week One: Spend Time with the Master

Week’s Goal: You will evaluate your discipleship and focus on Christ as the center of your life. 

Day 1: The First Priority.  You will learn what a Disciple is and reassessing your standing in your relationship with Christ.  You will begin to learn the Disciple’s Cross and about putting Christ first in your life.

Day 2: Under Christ’s Control.  You will learn a Disciple’s priorities are not SELF.  They are to deny SELF and put Christ first and at the Center in our lives.  WE must surrender control to Him in every area of our lives.

Day 3: Connected to the Vine.  You will learn the importance of a Quiet Time with the Lord and the components of Prayer.  You will memorize John 15:5: ‘I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’   You will discuss Remaining in Christ, and having a Life in Christ.

Day 4: Learning Obedience.  The key to discipleship is obeying Christ’s commands.   You must know them and do them.  You will go over more Scripture that emphasizes this.

Day 5: Challenges to Obedience.  To be a disciple you must be committed to obey His commands.  You continue to learn the Disciple’s cross and review your obstacle list.  (Those things which are your obstacles in obeying His commands and keeping the six disciplines.)

Week Two: Live in the Word

Week’s goal: To grow closer to Christ as you learn to live in the Word by having a daily quiet time and by memorizing Scripture.  Each week has a key memory verse and Scripture is discussed throughout each lesson.  Memory Verse for this week: ”If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples, Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”.  (John 8:31-32)

Day 1: A Close Relationship.  A daily quiet time is more than a habit.  It is an appointment with Jesus Christ.  The way to have Christ living in you, is to have HIS Word in you. You will learn WHY you should have a daily quiet time.

Day 2: Guidance for Daily Decisions.  You will begin to learn what Living in the Word means.  And one of the reasons for the quiet time is to receive direction and guidance for daily decisions.  You must take time and be quiet and listen for His answers to your prayers and for his guidance for the day. The Word provides many of those answers and He will direct you to His Word and to your answers….but you have to give Him the time.

Day 3:  Petitioning for Needs.   This day focuses on our Petitioning Him with our needs, creating a Prayer-Covenant List and the benefit of a prayer partner, and tracking answers to your prayers!

Day 4:  Abide and Obey.  As you begin to really know Christ, you will begin to know how he would respond is certain situations.  His Word teaches you who He is and His character.   ‘God does not want you to work for Him, He wants to work through you.‘  You will learn about bearing fruit in this day’s lesson.

Day 5:  A Daily Discipline.  This lesson discusses suggestions as to what your quiet time should look like.  What the processes are you might follow during your quiet time.  A process helps keep your mind from wandering off.  1 Peter 2:5 refers to believers as priests who may ‘offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.’  As priests, we have the privilege and responsibility to worship the Lord daily.

Week Three – Pray in Faith

Week’s goal:  To grow in your relationship with Christ by praying in Faith.  Week’s Memory Verse: ‘If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.’ (John 15:7)

Day One: Praying for What God Wants.  We need to hear God’s voice so we will know what to pray.  We learn about the Lord’s prayer and that Jesus prayed ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’.   God delights in answering prayer that is asked according to His will, but He refuses to answer prayer that is not consistent with what He wants.   More study of the Disciple’s Cross.

Day Two:  Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving. The Old Testament teaches that prayer is an act of coming into God’s presence.  You too, like Isaiah, can imagine entering the temple as you ‘approach God and experience His awesome holiness.’  This is a great lesson helping us understad what the discipline of Prayer is about.

Day Three:  Enter His Courts with Praise.  To Praise God is to proclaim His merit or worth.   ‘Praise raises your prayer life above yourself and focuses on the person of God.’  We discuss several of the names of God in this lesson.  Understanding the meaning of those names helps us under stand the Character of God.  ‘We should praise God because of who He is, not because of what He does.’

Day Four:  The Altar of Confession.   When Isaiah saw God and witnessed His glory, he then realized his need to confess his sin.  Approaching God’s throne causes us to ralize our personal sin.  We learn in this lesson why we aren’t to come to God with sin in our heart. We need to confess our sin before asking for anything.  See Psalm 139:23-24.  More time is spent learning the Disciple’s cross in this lesson.

Day Five:  In God’s Presence.  This lesson takes us to the temple and the Holy of Holies, and the fact that we have access directly to Jesus who is the only high priest we need.  1 John 5:14-15 says ‘This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.’   We learn about the importance of intercessory prayer as well.

Week Four: Fellowship with Believers

Week’s Goal: Experience growth in Christ through relationships in His body  Memory Verse: John 13:34-35: ‘ A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’

Day One: The Mark of a Disciple.  Jesus tells us if we don’t love one another we are not His disciples.  This is the key Mark of a Disciple.  More work on learning the Disciple’s Cross in this lesson.  Love shows the world that we are His disciples.

Day Two:  The Gift of Accountability.   God works through others.  Christian friends can help hold you accountable for times when you get off course.  They can lovingly help you recognize your misplaced priorities.  They will pray for you and you for them. God wants us to fellowship with each other and help each other be all God wants thus to be.

Day Three: Help for Withered ChristiansFellowship gives us a network of support.  1 Corinthians 12:27 says ‘You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.’ If one member of the body withers, the entire body suffers, including you.   The body cares for each other so that together all of the members become more complete in Christ’s love.  ( I can truly attest to this.)

Day Four:  What Christ Expects.  In John 15:9, 12-13, Jesus says as the Father has loved Him so He has love the disciples.  ‘Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’  Avery addresses the cost of neglecting relationships.  The most serious result with believers is that it inevitably creates distance between you and God!  He also addresses TIME.  God gives us time as gift.  We are responsible to Him for what we do with it!

Day Five:  The Model of Friendship.  In John 15:14-15 Jesus tells the disciples they are His friends if they do what He commands.  That is the same for us.  John 15:16-17 emphasizes the high priority He placed on fellowship with believers.

Week Five: Witness to the World

Week’s goal: You will bear witness of Christ and your relationship with Him.  Memory Verse: John 15:8: ‘This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.’

Day One:  Bearing fruit for Christ.  How are we to bring glory to God?  By bearing fruit.  When you bear fruit for Him, you bring glory to Him.  This lesson goes deep into what bearing fruit looks like as a disciple. We also spend more time learning the Disciple’s Cross in this lesson.

Day Two:  Relying on Christ.   We are to rely on Christ as our strength not ourselves.  This lesson takes us to many scriptures which tell us to let Christ be our source of power.  We learn that fruit bearing is not a choice.  It is a requirement.  We will bear more fruit if we remain in Him and seek His will.

Day Three:  Every’s Disciple’s Orders.   In John 15:16 Jesus said ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name.’ Spend more time learning the Disciple’s Cross.

Day Four:  Compelled to Tell.  In Acts 4:20 the Bible says, ‘We cannot help speaking about what we hae seen and heard.’   In this lesson we learn the Roman Road witnessing tool and also discuss others.  It is all believers duty to witness to others.  Do not be afraid to share.

Day Five:  The Price of Bearing Fruit.  Jesus tells us that because He suffered, we too will suffer and we will be persecuted.  It is expected.  We will experience rejection by others as He experienced rejection.  We discuss again, the need to memorize Scripture and have it available in our hearts and minds.  We are to memorize Scripture because He commands it.  Deut. 6:6.  We learn methods to help us memorize Scripture in this lesson.

Week Six:  Minister to Others

Week’s Goal: Minister to others as you take up your cross and follow Jesus.  Memory Verse: ‘Greater love has no man than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.’ (John 15:13)

Day One:  Take up your CrossA Christian performs sacrificial service.  We look for opportunities to serve and step up when they arise.  We learn in Luke 9:23 (our key Disciple’s Cross verse) that we are to ‘take up our cross daily and follow Him.’  We cannot be a disciple and not do this. This is part of our relationship with Christ.  A disciple ministers to others, even if you have to experience hardship of give your life.

Day Two:  Ministry in Christ’s Name.  This is a key part of the Disciple’s cross: Ministry.  In this lesson we learn the 5 types of ministry that we may become involved in:

  • The Word leads us to a ministry of teaching/preaching
  • Prayer leads us to a ministry of worship/intercession
  • Fellowship leads to a ministry of nurture
  • WItness leads us to a  ministry of evangelism
  • Fellowship and witness leads us to a ministry of service

Day Three:  More Ways to Minister.  We discuss the Ministries of Nurture and Evangelism in depth in this lesson.  More work on the Disciple’s Cross.

Day Four:  The Demands of Christ. ‘ We cannot accept the part of Jesus’ message that we like and reject what we do not like.  We must accept it all.’  We can expect to be rejected.  But we have the promise of His presence with us along our path as we walk with Him and serve Him. WE learn more about t ministry of Service in this lesson.  And spend more time on the Disciple’s Cross.

Day Five:  A Disciple Indeed.  When the door seems to be closed, God can make a way for us to serve Him.  This speaks strongly to me todayThe rest of this class is spent going through the Disciple’s cross and then each member of the class comes back the next week to do their presentation of the Cross.

I highly, highly recommend this study.

Just this first book alone is tremendous.  People who have accepted Christ but never have really understood what is expected of them as a Christian all need to do this study.  I pray you can find someone to lead this study in your area.   If you have questions please rcomment on this Blog or our contact us page and I will be happy to answer your questions.

Click her for the free Crossword for this book.  If you want the answer, comment on this blog post and also let me know you want me to email it to you!

I will do blogs on the other 3 books in the next few weeks.

Click on the picture of the book to go to a site where you can purchase the book.  If you purchase from the link we may receive a small commission.

Please leave a comment below. We welcome your thoughts! 

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Blessings to you all.   To God be the Glory! 


  • Michelle L Newbold

    I am looking for a set of slides for the Disciple’s Cross presentation. Do you know of any powerpoint slides available on this? Starting with the circle and then adding a portion of the cross on each succeeding slide. Do you know of such a file or resource? I’m guessing the Disciple’s Cross video has it, but I would rather present it myself and use the slides as a back drop than play a video.
    Thanks for any help you can provide.

    • taresa

      I am sorry I have been tied up on other projects and failed to respond to you. I do not know of a powerpoint like you are looking for.
      Perhaps you can create one. It would be very valuable.

      Taresa at Standing Firm Products

  • Kathleen B.

    A thorough review!
    This sounds very much like a class/book published by Nav Press which I did years ago (can’t remember the name of it). Even though I had been a Christian for many years at the time, I still found it very helpful. We always need to review the basics. Also it’s exciting to go through a study like this with new Believers!
    I especially like the fact that this book/study includes worship in its ministry of prayer. Prayer is so much more than just asking for things!
    “The ministry of Nurture” is a new thought for me, but I like it very much. It describes what fellowship really should be all about.
    The emphasis on obedience and habit is also very important.
    This sounds like a valuable resource and something that every new (and old) Christian should go through.

    • taresa

      Thank you so much for your review and your comments Kathleen.  I love MasterLife and we will be leading it again in the spring with a group of friends. 

      Please feel free to check back and see some of our other reviews and feel free to comment.

      Blessings…and have a happy 4th!

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