TGR-S2E5: Unlearning Idolatry

Standard

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
Continue reading

Paleo-Evangelical Christianity

Standard

I consider myself a “Paleo-Evangelical” Christian. Like my counterparts in the first century, I have had transformational encounters with the person of Jesus Christ and am devoted to making him known as the Risen Lord; but am still working through which of my inherited cultural understandings and religious teachings are worthy to bear His name.

Continue reading

The Sinners Prayer, 2.0

Standard

Dear God,

Thank you for creating me in Your image, and for loving us like Jesus.

Make me more and more like Jesus as I listen to your Word, your Spirit, and your Body.

Heal the wounds in my spirit that keep me from loving You, myself and others as Jesus did.

Help me show Your love to the world by practicing the generosity and vulnerability Jesus showed on the cross.

Teach me to always rejoice in the privilege of being your child.

I ask this because of everything Jesus did for me. So be it!

Anjali’s Catechism: A Childlike Invitation to Spiritual Christianity

Standard

Anjali’s Catechism: The Book is coming in Summer 2019.  Preview now.

The Invitation

Are you ready to:

  1. Embrace the One who created the universe as the Heavenly Father who loves you like Jesus?
  2. Submit your awareness, values, and goals to becoming more like Christ’s?
  3. Receive God’s Spirit, Word, and Body to reveal and heal the wounds in your spirit that hinder you from becoming like Jesus?
  4. Value God’s happiness, glory, and relationships more than your own?
  5. Practice generosity and vulnerability so others can see Christ in you?
  6. Surrender childlike happiness for the grown-up joy of loving like Jesus?

Lessons

Continue reading

From the Kingdom to the Cross: A Confession

Standard

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.

God Loves Us Like Jesus: A Six Syllable Gospel (Childlike Theology)

Standard

[Now part 1 of 6 in a series on Childlike Theology]

Since my son’s second set of seasons, I’ve sought a scalable summary of the gospel. Something simple enough to be sung by a six-year-old, yet sufficiently sophisticated to stun seminarians for centuries. Here’s my most successful statement so far:

God Loves Us Like Jesus

Simultaneously saying, in short, that the Father loves in the way:

  • Jesus loves us
  • He loves Jesus
  • that makes us more like Jesus

Submitting to that sort of Savior is a sweet smell to our spirit, but a shocking scare to our sin! Continue reading

Evangel, Part IV: The Bad News

Standard

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. — Romans 6:3-5

Continue reading

Evangel, Part II: The Story of God (and Me)

Standard

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared…” – I Corinthians 15:1-5a

Continue reading

Good News for Modern Nerds

Standard

The Nerd Bible (pdf) started with my sermon notes from 1985 at Park Street Church in Boston, where I was an MIT sophomore. Our college pastor Tony DeOrio used phrases like “integrating faith into our lives” and “love should differentiate Christians from the world.” Being intrinsically lazy — not to mention nerdly — I wrote those phrases down using calculus (#7 and #9).

When MIT made available a new-fangled Postscript printer capable of math symbols, I decided to learn the formatting language LaTeX to try it out. Just for the fun of it, I started with my sermon notes, then added other verses which used the different math functions available (#2, #3, #6 and #8). The Fourier transform (#6) is the only formula not recognizable by most first-year calculus students, but it makes such a beautiful mathematical/theological statement I feel it is worth the confusion it causes.

In the fall of 1986, I was studying cultural contextualization in the “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” missions class. I realized my equations formed something pretty close to a gospel outline in math. To fill in the holes, I came up with several theological and Christological statements (#1, #4,and #5). “Lamb’ de God” probably represents the pinnacle of my efforts at combining bad puns and good theology.

The final touch (#10) was based on a challenge my lab partner Scott Beasley issued after seeing my first draft. “Yeah, but could you ever represent the Song of Solomon in calculus?” You be the judge.

Update: Also available as a T-shirt.

LEAD! C.8 Submission and Service

Standard

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

Continue reading

LEAD! C.5 Studying Scripture

Standard

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

Continue reading

LEAD! A.8 Christ’s Salvation

Standard

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…

Continue reading