From the Kingdom to the Cross: A Confession

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I feel like I need to repent of something.

For the last decade or so, I have been focused on understanding and promoting Transformational Christianity, which is based largely on Kingdom theology.  I believed — and still  believe — that the Kingdom of God is a powerful Biblical metaphor for understanding what the church and Christians are supposed to be doing on the earth.

But I think we’ve missed something.  To be fair, everyone else in the gospels — the crowds, the disciples, even John the Baptist — also missed it.  But that’s still no excuse. Especially since we have their example.

We have forgotten the cross of Christ. We have preached the life of Jesus in the gospels, and the power of the Holy Spirit in Acts, but overlooked the crucifixion that made both of those meaningful.  We have sought the glory of Christ without sharing in His sufferings.

We want to bring the Kingdom of God — which is a good thing.

But we have tried to bring the Kingdom without first going to the cross. Which is a bad thing.

Oops.

Dear God,

Forgive me for falling into the same trap your early followers did, of getting so excited over the promise of the Kingdom I totally missed what you were actually doing. I confess that I still do not understand the cross of Christ, or why you had to die.  Which is why I resist the fact that I have to die. And forget to tell people that they have to die, as Jesus did.  We have — forgive the pun — watered down Baptism to an empty ritual, instead of a way to share in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I am sorry. Please forgive me by your grace, by that very same death on a cross I have so foolishly neglected.  Have mercy on those I may have misled or failed to help along the way.  Help me to do my part in bringing back the fulness of the gospel to your people.

And, um, please let me know if there’s anything else important that I’ve missed…

I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.

Redemption: A Vision in Many Pieces

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Redemption

A Vision in Many Pieces

Ernest Prabhakar

June 8th, 2001

“God, its too big for me to carry!”

“I know, my son.”

We sat at the bottom of my heart, facing the dark, concrete-like slab which was my need for love, my desire for human intimacy to the fill the void in my life and give me meaning. We had been doing some Spring Cleaning of my soul. It had been a while since I’d talked with God, and when I finally got around to it again I was surprised to discover lots of worries and fears weighing me down. The stuff on top was relatively easy – I handed over issues at work, my marriage, relations with family. But then we got down to things which had been undisturbed for years, maybe decades, and I realized I couldn’t move these myself.

“Will you carry it out?”

“Of course, but I will not do it alone. You must be a part of the process. It is yours, after all”



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LEAD! C.9 Confrontation and Confession

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In Which We Speak The Truth, Even If It Hurts

Early we discussed reconciliation and forgiveness in the light of Christ’s salvation. This week, we dig into the disciplines which enables all of those: confession, and its handmaiden confrontation.

Though we love to be forgiven, we generally hate to confess, and are terrified of confrontation. Though we are ready to face persecution and death for the sake of Christ, we find ourselves paralyzed at the thought of admitting our sins to another — never mind confronting them face-to-face with their own sin!

Yet these two disciplines have the potential to break individual and community strongholds of sin that otherwise would not fall despite years of bible study, prayer, and fasting. They may be a heavy cross to bear, but if we persevere in them we shall find a glorious resurrection at the end…

Memory Verse: “Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”James 5:20 (NKJV)

Assigned Reading
  1. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

    • Part III. The Corporate Disciplines
    • 10. Confession
  2. Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

    • 11. Journaling
  3. Eugene Peterson: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

    • 2. Repentance: “I’m Doomed to Live in Meshech”
  4. Ruth Haley Barton: Sacred Rhythms

    • 6. Self-Examination: Bringing My Whole Self Before God

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LEAD! C.4 Fervent Fasting

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In Which We Slow Down To Feast on the Lord’s Name

Throughout the Old and New Testament, God’s people have fasted to express sorrow, repentance, and desperation. In ways we only partly understand, these acts of physical denial open up our spirits to experience God in deeper and more powerful ways. For Christians, fasting is less an obligation than a privilege: the opportunity to enjoy a special time of intimacy with our Bridegroom despite his physical absence (cf. Mark 2:18-20).

Memory Verse: “‘Now, therefore,’ says the LORD, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’ So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.”Joel 2:12-13 (NKJV)

Assigned Reading
  1. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

    • 4. Fasting
  2. Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

    • 9. Fasting
  3. Eugene Peterson: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

    • 13. Humility: “I’ve Kept My Feet on the Ground”
  4. Ruth Haley Barton: Sacred Rhythms

    • 5. Honoring the Body: Flesh-and-Blood Spirituality

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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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