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.4 From Folly to Love

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In Which We Are Rescued from Our Folly by God’s Love

theo_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…

Assigned Reading
  1. Peter Kreeft: Back to Virtue

    • 5.C (Love) The Three Theological Virtues
  2. Dick Hockett: Foundations of Wisdom

    • 6. The Fool

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LEAD! A.8 Christ’s Salvation

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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…

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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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TELL: Theological Essentials for Lay Leaders

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As a counterpart (or even prequel) to my previous article about “safety skills“, I wanted to identify those theological topics essential for lay leaders to understand. In particular, I believe lay leaders need a more concise and practical “boot camp”, in contrast to the multi-year “officer’s training school” provided in seminaries.

Another difference in focus is that I believe (along with the writer of Proverbs) that the goal of theological education is wisdom, not mere knowledge. That is, the goal is to cover a small number of essential issue in sufficient depth to enable people to make more godly decisions — not simply provide an intellectual overview of traditional topics.

Given all that, here is my best attempt at a minimal 12-week course that covers the heart issues of contemporary theology. What are your thoughts and suggestions?

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Redeeming Aphrodite: The Temple (Part 1)

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We are standing beside an ancient Greek temple.  It is beautiful, and remarkably tasteful: sensuous without being obscene. We are arguing.  It is an old argument. I have been here many times before.

You just don’t understand, I have to go in.

“Why?”

Look, I know you don’t like the old gods. You say they are corrupt and impotent.  But this one’s different.  I know she’s good.  She has done wonderful things for me in the past.  Yeah, I know I’ve often used her as an idol.  But really, I’m beyond that.  I just want to thank her for the past, and move on.  What’s wrong with that?  Shouldn’t we render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s?

“You’re the one who doesn’t understand, Ernie.  I’m not saying you’re wrong — though I’m not saying you’re right.  I’m not even forbidding you from entering.  But…”

But what?

“I won’t go in with you.”

[I pause. Confused yet determined as I am, his simple statement frames it as a stark choice.  I can’t leave him.  Whatever I owe Her, I owe Him more.]

So, what do we do? You do agree she has a claim on me, don’t you?

[Now He’s the one who sighs] “Yes, she does.  I would have spared you from this if I could, but her claim is legitimate. And as you well know, all debts must eventually be paid.”

[squirming] So…

[He looks straight into my eyes] So I will go in, and you can come… with me.

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