Mrs. Charming’s Castle, Act I

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Dedicated to our wives, and The Church.

Act 1:  The War

Scene 1: The Gnomes

The gnomes invaded the continent almost exactly one year after Prince Kit Charming married Cinderella, now known as Princess Ella.

“My son,” said the King. “While I gladly gave you a year to enjoy life with your beautiful bride, It is now time for you to take on the duties of royalty.”

Oh no, thought Ella.  Will he send Kit away to the war?

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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.

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.7 Silence and Solitude

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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)

Assigned Reading
  1. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

    • 7. Solitude
  2. Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

    • 10. Silence and Solitude
  3. Eugene Peterson: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

    • 7. Security: “God Encircles His People”
  4. Ruth Haley Barton: Sacred Rhythms

    • 2. Solitude: Creating Space for God

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LEAD! C.3 Persistent Prayer

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In Which We and the World are Transformed as We Pray to the Father

Prayer is the process of aligning our thoughts, desires, and decisions with the Name of God, so that His Spirit can work through us to transform our lives, our relationships, and our world.

Memory Verse:“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”Matthew 6:31-33 (NKJV)

Assigned Reading
  1. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

    • 3. Prayer
  2. Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

    • 4. Prayer
  3. Eugene Peterson: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

    • 12. Hope: “I Pray to God … and Wait for What He’ll Say & Do”
  4. Ruth Haley Barton: Sacred Rhythms

    • 4. Prayer: Deepening Our Intimacy with God

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LEAD! B.11 From Gluttony to Self-Control

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In Which We Deny Our Bodies to Nurture Our Souls

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:10

While gluttony primarily refers to the excessive consumption of food, here we will define it more broadly as “seeking to satisfy our souls by indulging the appetites of the flesh.” This is in contrast to self-control, which is the ability to align the actions of our body with the desires of the spirit.

Importantly, for a Christian self-control is ultimately about being controlled by God’s Spirit; in fact, God sometimes lets us fall into sins of the flesh to teach us not to trust in our own willpower!

This is also why those who undergo persecution are considered “blessed”, or “lucky”, as it is obvious to them that they can’t pursue physical comfort and the kingdom of heaven at the same time.

For the rest of us, alas, the temptation is far more subtle…

Assigned Reading
  1. Peter Kreeft: Back to Virtue

    • 13. Courage under Persecution vs. Self-indulgence
  2. Dick Hockett: Foundations of Wisdom
    • 3.1 (Self-control) Example: Proverbs about the Tongue

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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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