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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Lesson 4/6 True Love (Anjali’s Catechism)

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WorshipHe’s Worth It

The whole point of becoming a Christian is to know and love God, ourselves, and others the way Jesus did.  But what exactly is love?

We use the word “love” whenever we strongly desire or value something.  But there are three very different kinds of love:

  1. Happiness: because it what we want and makes us feel good
  2. Glory: because it helps us become or be known as our best
  3. Relationship: because we feel or want to be connected to it

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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.

LEAD! C.12 Joy in the Journey

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In Which We Begin to Pursue the End…

This is the final lesson in our series, but hopefully just the beginning of your journey in understanding what it means to lead others — and yourself — into the “name” of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

As we proceed to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (cf Philippians 2:12), it is essential to continually rejoice (cf. Philippians 4:4), because the “joy of the Lord is our strength” (cf. Nehemiah 8:10). We may occasionally become discouraged when we realize we will never reach complete perfection, either in our discipline, our character, or even our theology (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:9). On the other hand, the good news is that this means we will always have room for improvement!

This course has tried to give you the basics, but there are even more wonderful truths about Christ to be understood, deeper works of the Holy Spirit to be experienced, and greater glories for the Father to be won.

May we persevere together in that pursuit until the day we are all finally united with our Beloved Bridegroom, to celebrate His matchless “name” for all eternity.

Memory Verse: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”Matthew 25:13 (NKJV)

Assigned Reading
  1. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

    • 13. Celebration
  2. Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

    • 13. Perseverance
  3. Eugene Peterson: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

    • 8. Joy: “We Laughed, We Sang”
    • 11. Perseverance: “They Never Could Keep Me Down!”
    • A Long Obedience: Epilogue
  4. Ruth Haley Barton: Sacred Rhythms

    • 9. A Rule of Life: Cultivating Rhythms for Spiritual Transformation

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LEAD! C.8 Submission and Service

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In Which We Triumph By Surrendering

Submission is the key to understanding and exercising divine authority. Not merely submitting to God, but also to other humans — even those we might be tempted to count our inferiors — in order to serve them.

Crucially, our service must not spring from codependency or a need to be liked, but from a single-minded devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ, who made Himself a servant for our sake.

For only if we serve as Jesus served can we triumph as He triumphs.

Memory Verse: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.”2 Corinthians 4:5 (NKJV)

Assigned Reading
  1. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

    • 8. Submission
    • 9. Service
  2. Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

    • 7. Serving
  3. Eugene Peterson: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

    • 5. Service: “Like Servants . . . We’re Watching & Waiting”
    • 15. Community: “Like Costly Anointing Oil Flowing Down Head & Beard”
  4. Ruth Haley Barton: Sacred Rhythms

    • N/A

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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! B.12 From Shame to Glory

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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?

Assigned Reading
  1. Peter Kreeft: Back to Virtue

    • In Conclusion: The Winsomeness of Virtue
  2. Dick Hockett: Foundations of Wisdom
    • 7. The Wise

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LEAD! B.9 From Sloth to Fruitfulness

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In Which We Abide Fruitfully Instead of Vegetating Slothfully

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” — Matthew 5:6

Sloth may seem like an archaic sin in our busy modern world, but our frenzied activity is itself a sign of sloth, which can be defined as a lack of vigor in pursuing God’s name — His character and purposes. In fact, the self-centered pursuit of our own “name” — especially under the guise of religion — is actually the worst kind of sloth! (cf. Matthew 23)

The antidote is to empty ourselves of worldly pursuits so that we become truly hungry for faith, hope, and love. Only when we abandon slothfully seeking our own comfort — which merely results in restlessness — can we experience the divine dynamism and peace that comes from abiding in Him…

Assigned Reading
  1. Peter Kreeft: Back to Virtue

    • 11. Hungering for Righteousness vs. Satisfied with Sloth
  2. Dick Hockett: Foundations of Wisdom
    • 3.5 (Trustworthy) Example: Proverbs about the Tongue

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LEAD! B.5 From Pride to Humility

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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.

Assigned Reading
  1. Peter Kreeft: Back to Virtue

    • 6. The Beatitudes Confront the Seven Deadly Sins
    • 7. Poor in Spirit vs. Proud at Heart
  2. Dick Hockett: Foundations of Wisdom
    • 8. Pride, Humility, and the Fear of the Lord
    • 3.2 (Truth) Example: Proverbs about the Tongue

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LEAD! B.3 From Mockery to Hope

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In Which Our Souls Find Hope Amidst Suffering

theo_hope

Hope is the primary virtue of the Soul. It provides Reasons to encourage positive Emotions, and the Emotional energy to search for better Reasons. It can be defined as “the ability to joyfully pursue a higher purpose — even when painful.”

Hope is particularly needed by the Mocker, who is driven by both the need to control (due to fear) and the illusion of control (due to pride). Yet if they can unclench their soul enough to hope in God’s wisdom, Mockers may yet discover that true freedom comes from giving up control.

Though such learning usually only comes after great suffering…

Assigned Reading
  1. Peter Kreeft: Back to Virtue

    • 5.B (Hope) The Three Theological Virtues
  2. Dick Hockett: Foundations of Wisdom
    • 5. The Mocker

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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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LEAD! Syllabus for “Theological Foundations”

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[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:

In addition to providing a sort index to the topics covered, this allows students and teachers to use those as supplementary textbooks.

  • Draft 1 – Sunday, 24th August
  • Draft 2 – Tuesday, 26th August: Added “Doctrine” “Essentials” chapters for each lesson
  • Draft 3 – Friday, 29th August: Added “Doctrines” chapters for each lesson

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LEAD! Curriculum Reset for “Theological Foundations”

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So, the good news is that our church is gearing up to start LEAD! on September 4th, and already taking applications! That’s also the bad news, since I’ve only finished three classes. 😦

Still, it only takes me about four hours per class, which is two late night waiting-to-feed-Rohan sessions (assuming he behaves), so I should be able to keep up.

The real problem is that my lesson topics have gone in a completely different direction that originally envisioned. More, my pastor has a slightly different vision for how things should fit together. Given the time timeframes, it is essential we get on the same page (and stick to it, if possible).

Here’s my current vision for what is now being called “Theological Foundations”. Hopefully my pastor and I can converge on this syllabus soon (once he’s no longer busy with his new grandson 🙂

[Updated and ratified 8/19 with John Isaacs]

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