TGR-S2E5: Unlearning Idolatry

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Next Tuesday, June 16, 2020 our Biastes public discipleship men’s group will continue using The Great Reset in Education as a lens to explore issues of racism and repentance in the wake of the Killing of George Floyd.

The Great Reset, Season 2, Episode 5

Question

How can we retrain ourselves to measure everything against the reality of Jesus Christ — instead of our own understanding?

Cf. Peter rebuking Jesus — and vice versa (Matthew‬ ‭16:21-25‬)

Perspective

Create systems where we are repeatedly:

  1. Emptied of our shame via the cross
  2. Submitting ourselves to be filled with power by the Holy Spirit
  3. Using those to connect transformationally with the Other
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ShameBreaker Covenant

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  1. God loves me, and has a wonderful plan for my life. 
  2. As I humble myself and turn away from my wicked ways, I position myself to receive the fullness of God’s blessings and favor.
  3. I confess that I have sinned — against myself, others, and God — to the point where I deserve nothing but condemnation and death. 
  4. Through the cross, I have been born again as God’s child; He blesses me because He wants to, not because I deserve it. 
  5. In order to receive my inheritance, I must confront and overcome the part of myself that wants to remain a slave to the systems of this world. 
  6. In God’s timing, I will respectfully renegotiate my relationship to the people and institutions that were my Egypt, in order to redeem myself and them. 
  7. Going forward, I will boast of my weakness, so that God’s power gets all the credit for my achievements.  

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Christianity Beyond, Draft 1

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Bringing Heaven to Earth. One Cross at a Time.

[Update: see my background thinking in Draft 2]

Christianity Beyond is a movement of ordinary people who are learning how to make the same kind of extraordinary impact as the Jesus they love.  We honor all the ways people have sought to follow Jesus in the past and present, but dare to go beyond that in order to demonstrate to a watching world just how good and worthy Jesus is.

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AORTA Adolescence: The Perpetual Practice of Growing into Christ

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It may be too late to have a happy childhood, but it is never too late to have a turbulent adolescence!

We as a society have lost sight of what it means to grow up. And that’s a good thing!

The gift (and curse) of the Enlightenment is that each of us must answer the question: who do I want to be when I grow up?  It is tempting to envy our ancestors and traditional cultures who had well-defined “markers of maturity”, e.g., marriage, mortgage, and making money.  There is enormous security, stability, and support in having society validate who you are supposed to be.

But there is also enormous danger, especially for Christians.

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RohAnjali 2018 New Year’s Prayer

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Dear God,

Thank you that our family belongs to you.

We confess we need you to free us from our sin and shame so we can love like Jesus.

Give us the grace to:

  • Trust you with our desires
  • Face our fears
  • Reflect on our anger
  • Speak the truth in love, and
  • Ask for help along the way

We ask this by the blood of Jesus, Amen.

Wise Risk: Faith in Two Syllables

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Part 5 of 6 in the series Childlike Theology:

  1. The Gospel
  2. Discipleship
  3. Holiness
  4. Worship

As children, we express faith in our parents by obeying them to stay safe. As adolescents, we risk danger in order to express faith in ourselves.

I have come to believe that the hallmark of a mature faith is wise risk. Which implies we should be designing our lives — and churches — to maximize learning rather than avoid failure.

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LEAD! C.6 Stewardship and Simplicity

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In Which God Reminds Us That All “Our” Money Is Ultimately “His” — And That’s A Good Thing!

Stewardship is closely related to the virtue of generosity we studied in the last module. While that lesson focused primarily on our attitude towards money, here we will focus more on our attitude towards God. True stewardship includes financial wisdom, but is also a general attitude toward all of our resources: e.g., time, energy, and attention.

In particular, we practice the discipline of simplicity in order to both reflect and reinforce our devotion to the Master of whom we are stewards. This prevents us from wasting our resources trying to prop up our own glory — which paradoxically is what allows God to glorify us in Him!

Memory Verse: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ” — Luke 12:34  (NKJV)

Assigned Reading
  1. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

    • Part II. The Outward Disciplines
    • 6. Simplicity
  2. Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

    • 8. Stewardship
  3. Eugene Peterson: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

    • 9. Work: “If God Doesn’t Build the House”
  4. Ruth Haley Barton: Sacred Rhythms

    • 8. Sabbath: Establishing Rhythms of Work and Rest

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LEAD! C.5 Studying Scripture

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boIn Which Diligently Searching God’s Word Leads Us to Truth

Few disciplines are as essential — or as dangerous! — as studying the words and works of God. Used in the wrong spirit, theology can become a heavy burden or a useless distraction (cf. Matthew 23:4). But when taught by the Holy Spirit, God’s word becomes the very source of life itself (cf. Luke 4:4). The challenge to us, as to Timothy, is whether we will apply God’s word rightly

Memory Verse: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)

Assigned Reading
  1. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

    • 5. Study
  2. Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

    • 2. Bible Intake (Part I)
  3. Eugene Peterson: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

    • 6. Help: “Oh, Blessed Be God! He Didn’t Go Off & Leave Us!”
  4. Ruth Haley Barton: Sacred Rhythms

    • 3. Scripture: Encountering God Through Lectio Divina

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LEAD! C.1 Desire and Discipline

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In Which Our Desire For God’s Name Inspires Us to Submit To His Discipline

In Part A of this class we began by studying the theological foundations of Christianity, with a focus on what it means to be baptized into the “name” of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Part B we explored what it looks like to appropriate that “name” — God’s character — through the pursuit of wisdom, as contrasted with the simple, mockers, and fools. For Part C, our final module, we will be focusing on Skills for Servant Leaders — the spiritual disciplines necessary to cultivate those virtues in our lives without falling into pride or will-worship.

Our primary text will be Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster, which you are encouraged to supplement with one of the other books listed below. In addition, you are encouraged to actively practice the disciplines as we work through these studies, using tools like the memory verse (below).

However, it is essential to remember that the disciplines are only effective if they are not ends in themselves, but means to our greatest desire, which is Christ Himself…

Memory Verse: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)

Assigned Reading
  1. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

    • Introduction
    • 1. The Spiritual Disciplines: Door to Liberation
  2. Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

    • Introduction
    • 1. The Spiritual Disciplines… for the Purpose of Godliness
  3. Eugene Peterson: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

    • Preface
    • 1. Discipleship: “What Makes You Think You Can Race Against Horses?”
  4. Ruth Haley Barton: Sacred Rhythms

    • Introduction
    • 1. Longing for More: An Invitation to Spiritual Transformation

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LEAD! B.8 From Anger to Reconciliation

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In Which We Forgive Those Who Don’t Deserve It, Because We Don’t Either

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” — Matthew 5:5
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” — Matthew 5:9

Anger is unique among the seven deadly sins in that, in general, anger isn’t even a sin (cf. Ephesians 4:26). At one level, it is simply an emotional reaction to having our boundaries crossed. And at the highest level, anger is actually a virtue, since it is a significant part of God’s character — i.e., the “name” to which we are being conformed!

At the same time, anger is also the name of one of the most violent and dangerous sins. We can define sinful anger as a self-righteous passion for punishing those who offend us. This is why anger is so empowering and so deadly: it magnifies the sins of others to the point where we ignore our own.

Because anger is so devastating, we need to combat it with both meekness — the ability to restrain our passions in submission to God’s rule — and peacemaking, which seeks restoration and reconciliation instead of revenge.

Of course, that is easier said then done…

Assigned Reading
  1. Peter Kreeft: Back to Virtue

    • 10. The Meek and the Peacemakers vs. The Anger-driven
  2. Dick Hockett: Foundations of Wisdom
    • 3.4 (Gentle and healing) Example: Proverbs about the Tongue

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LEAD! B.6 From Greed to Generosity

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In Which We Gain Power Over Money By Giving It Away

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” — Matthew 5:7

Even if we escape the pride of trusting completely in our own “name”, we still must guard against trusting in things instead of God. The purest form of this is greed or avarice, which can be defined as treating money as an “end” — i.e., an extension of the self. This is in contrast to generosity, which considers money primarily a “means” of showing mercy to others.   

Assigned Reading
  1. Peter Kreeft: Back to Virtue

    • 8. Giving Mercy vs. Getting Things (Avarice)
  2. Dick Hockett: Foundations of Wisdom
    • 3.3 (Righteous) Example: Proverbs about the Tongue

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LEAD! B.1 From Humanism to Wisdom

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In Which Our Character is Conformed to God’s Name, Via The Pursuit of Wisdom

In our first twelve-week series on Theological Foundations, we focused on what it means to be “baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit“, moving from sin to sanctification as the body of Christ entering into His Kingdom.

In this our second series, we focus on how we can appropriate that “name” in our own lives — as well as those of the people we lead and serve. This is the essence of Christian Character, the second leg of our “LEAD” tripod (the third and final one being “Skills for Service”, coming in Spring 2009).

The goal of character formation is to bring our “whole person” into alignment with the “whole name” of God — His identity, character, and purpose. We can define the whole person using the “triplet” model below, which has:

  1. Our Spirit at the center…
  2. … working through our Heart, Soul and Mind… (cf. Mark 12:30)
  3. … which together produce Emotions, Reasons, and Decisions…
  4. … that manifest in actions of our Body

person-new

While all models are imperfect, and there are many other ways to picture the human psyche, this diagram will help us understand the role of Wisdom in character formation — and how we fall short…

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LEAD! Part B: Christian Character

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As mentioned earlier, the LEAD! Bible Study is a tripod, built on three legs:

  • theological education
  • character formation
  • skill development

Having finished writing the lessons for Part A, we now turn out attention to the second trimester (which the class will start in January). This blog post is for the initial outline; as before, the final version will be part of the living syllabus at https://2transform.us/lead/
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Twelve Steps to Arrow-Proof Your Ministry

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Apologies for the pretentious title, but I wanted to challenge myself to identify and reorganize the lessons we covered in last year’s leadership class into a coherent prescription for facing down “Ministry Killers”. The idea is that each of these “steps” would be a single “life lesson”, but that together they provide the “full armor of God.

What do you think? Did I miss anything important?

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