Lent has always been a time for the followers of Jesus to reflect and prepare for remembering Christ’s death and resurrection. This year, in light of everything that has happened over the last twelve months, I would like to take that to the next level.
My dream for Lent and Holy Week (Feb 15 to April 6) is to host an online group devotional where every week we publicly model how to vulnerably encounter Jesus via His Word & Spirit, Body & Blood. Continue reading →
I recently learned (probably from Seth Godin) that there are two types of roles: certified and performative. Roles defined by certification can be faked; for example, a man can sit in a medical office, examine patients, and give advice without really being a doctor. Conversely, the mere act of executing a performative role makes it authentic: if you get on a stage and sing to an audience, you are a singer, regardless of whether you are “qualified” to be there.
Today, as for much of its history, being a Christian is primarily defined by certifications: baptism, confirmation, membership, statements of faith, etc. As a result, there are endless arguments (and divisions) regarding about who is “really” a Christian.
What if it was other way around? What if there was something we could do, such that the very act of doing it was proof that we are being united with Christ, regardless of our beliefs or motives?
This Tuesday on July 7th, 2020 we kick off Season 3 of The Great Reset by introducing oikotics, a novel discipline that unifies economics, politics, psychology & religion.
Question: What is the most useful and healthy way to think about money?
Perspective: Money is the most decentralized mechanism yet for a society to distribute Resources, Status and Relationships. As such, it complements — and competes with! — family, religion, and the state.
I’m in the process of cleaning up my “personal” site on DrErnie.com, and as part of that I’m moving some of my earlier writings to this site.
To start with, I present “Unforgiven”, a more-or-less accurate transcript of the first time God really dealt with me about anger…
A testimony in three persons
The stage appears empty except for a single chair, center, facing right. A man sits on it backwards, facing left, hugging the back of the chair. His expression is grim. A single spotlight shines down on him. Another man walk out from right, and stands looking at him from the semi-darkness. The first man speaks, but remains facing left.
In Which We Give Up the World for God, So We Can Give God to the World
Worship is simultaneously the most personal and the most all-encompassing of all human experiences. True worship is to encounter the Divine Presence in the very depths of our being, in a posture of absolute stillness and submission.
Yet such an encounter doesn’t merely empower and inspire us; it also requires us to manifest that same Presence amidst the frenzy and confusion of this present darkness (cf. Ephesians 6:12). Even to those we think least likely to respond…
Memory Verse: “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”” — John 4:24 (NKJV)
In Which We Withdraw From The World To Draw Near To God
The modern world considers solitary confinement and enforced silence as among the worst long-term punishments — with good reason; it is a terrifying thing to be cut off from the consolations and diversions of society. And yet, the very severity of that terror hints at the fertile spiritual soil to be uncovered when we deliberately cultivate time away from the distractions of ordinary human life…
Memory Verse: “Now when it was day, He departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowd sought Him and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from leaving them; but He said to them, ‘I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.’ “ — Luke 4:42-43 (NKJV)
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)
In Which God Is Glorified Amidst Our Shame, If We Choose His Glory Over Ours
As we finish this module, the most important lesson to remember is that wisdom and virtue are essential — but impossible! No matter how much we try or mature, we will never quite be able to fulfill everything God (or society, or even ourselves) expects of us. By God’s grace we may continue to improve, but we will never be perfect.
Western culture rarely admits the resulting sense of shame, but we still suffer its effects. The ultimate question is whether we will be “real” enough to submit our shame to the cross of Christ, so that He can heal us for His glory — or will we pridefully cling to our own glory, and remain simple, mockers, and fools?
In Which We Humble Ourselves Before God and Our Elders, Who Exalt Us
This week we shift our study of wisdom from the “theological virtues” (faith, hope, and love) to what might be called the “blessed virtues” from the Beatitudes. We will follow Peter Kreeft (below) in contrasting them with the Seven Deadly Sins, beginning with Humility vs. Pride:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:3
Pride is the first and deadliest of the deadly sins. It can be defined as “trusting our own name rather than God’s” — relying on our own character and identity as the ultimate authority.
In contrast, humility is recognizing the painful fact of our own poverty of spirit, so that we empty ourselves in order to receive our heavenly King.
In Which We Are Rescued from Our Folly by God’s Love
Love is the primary virtue of the Heart. It is both a Decision that gives rise to Emotions, as well an Emotion that gives rise to Decisions — and it needs both to thrive. It can be defined as “the ability to pursue another’s glory — even at the cost of your own.”
Love is particularly needed by the Fool, whose emotional damage drives a cycle of self-punishment disguised as the pursuit of pleasure. The only way out is to purify our hearts by receiving God’s love and forgiveness, to the point where we love Him more than the false gods we’ve served — and discover what it means to genuinely love ourselves…
In Which We Receive the Gospel, And Are Saved By It
Our series so far — indeed, the first half of human history — is but a prelude to the coming of Jesus Christ. In Christ we have the word of God made flesh, the perfect revelation of God’s character, a tangible representative of the Trinity, and a reminder of what we were created to be.
Yet even more glorious than all that: Christ is Our Lord, and has become our much-needed Savior…
[NOTE: the official syllabus is now on the “Lead” page; this post is obsolete, but kept for the sake of historical continuity].
[Yes, I should probably have written this before the first lesson, but better late than never…]
In thinking about it, I ought to take my Curriculum one step further, and actually identify the passages and key learnings for each lesson. Not only will this help ensure I’m on the same page as my pastor, but it would enable others to write some of the lessons (since class starts on September 4th!).
I’ve also cross-referenced these lessons against two common systematic theology books:
to equip leaders for a lifelong journey of bringing their “whole selves” (heart, soul, mind & strength) and “whole worlds” (family, church, community & marketplace) into ever-increasing alignment with God’s purpose (redemption, kingdom & glory).
There’s a more concise way to phrase that: conforming to the image of Christ, aka “Imago Christi”. I consider this the central tenet and purpose of Comprehensive Theological Education. Over time (I have no idea when), I hope to fill in other ‘CTE Lights’. Stay tuned…
Now, the first thing you need to realize is that oatmeal is part of my life. Not a big part, or a hugely important one, but a regular part. It is a central focus of my morning routine, right up there with coffee. I’m not religious about it — when I go out, I’m more likely to have an omelette — but if I’m home I’ll have oatmeal.
That isn’t meant as an excuse, or any sort of justification for how I reacted. I’m just trying to give you some context, to help you understand what happened, and what it might mean. These are the raw ingredients; what you make of them is up to you. Kind of like oatmeal itself.
Click [Read More] to experience what may well be the silliest parable you’ll ever read. Even if it was ‘just’ a dream — and one God used to clarify my life purpose.