TGR-S4E6: FBD-1 “Empowering Disciples”

Standard

This week on the Biastes we will be attempting a “FishBowl Dialogue” between Ernie P. and David J. This blog post is Ernie’s attempt to organize his thoughts in advance, based on his current best guess about David’s underlying Concern. Tune in next Tuesday 9/29/2020 to find out what actually happens!

What exactly are we talking about?

Question: What exactly is Ernie trying to accomplish with The Great Reset?

Perspective: Show the Body of Christ how to empower disciples of Jesus to keep growing closer to Him — rather than us.

See also: David and Ernie’s follow-up video.

Continue reading

TGR-S4E1: Healthy Submission

Standard

We kick off Season 4 of The Great Reset with the Biastes* on 1pm PDT Tuesday, Aug 25, 2020 by wrestling with questions of authority and submission, prompted by a viewer’s email.

Question

How should members of Christ’s Body best relate to internal and external human authorities and institutions, in order to continually increase God’s Kingdom?

Practice healthy submission to existing structures while we continue to design and implement more Christ-centered models
Continue reading

Joshua 3: Holy Shittim!

Standard

Questions:

  • Why should the Israelites stay a kilometer behind the ark?
  • How does God exalt Joshua? To what end?
  • Where should priests keep the presence of God?
  • What is the connection between “relationship” and “results”?
  • What’s the secret to leading a large group on inconceivable adventures?

Read more to pursue answers in [Joshua 3]

Continue reading

Knight Club: The Knight’s Code

Standard

The following is based on 1 – Introduction – The Training of a Knight – Age of Chivalry – Thomas Bulfinch, adapted surprisingly little to match the challenges of a preschool boy in modern America.

Knights:

  1. Respect their elders
  2. Serve the church
  3. Help their friends
  4. Protect the weak

I added the converse, to help clarify appropriate versus inappropriate behavior.

Bullies:

  1. Disobey their elders
  2. Disrupt the church
  3. Fight their friends
  4. Take from the weak

 

LEAD! Part A, Revisited

Standard

The LEAD! course format evolved considerably during the time I wrote it, especially in the first 3 months. We are working to publish it as a three-volume bible study, which means I need to go back and make the first few lessons consistent with the latter ones. So, I’ll try to rewrite each of the lessons from Part A at the rate of at least one per week.

The new lessons will replace the ones currently in the syllabus; links to the original lessons are archived below.

Continue reading

LEAD! C.12 Joy in the Journey

Standard

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

Continue reading

LEAD! C.11 Discerning Direction

Standard

In Which We Hear to Obey, and Obey to Hear

Few questions are more fraught with promise and peril for the believer than “What is God’s will for my life?” While we know the textbook answers, we still long for more specific, personal guidance — and rightly so. Properly hearing God’s voice can open the door to dramatic transformation of people, relationships, and society; alas, mishearing God’s voice can result in darkest tragedy.

There is no simple answer, but there is a sure promise: if we entrust our ways to the Lord by faithfully pursuing the disciplines in submission to the Spirit, the Word, and the Body, He will ultimately lead us in a way that glorifies His name…

Memory Verse: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

Assigned Reading
  1. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

    • 12. Guidance
  2. Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

    • 12. Learning
  3. Eugene Peterson: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

    • 3. Providence: “God Guards You from Every Evil”
    • 14. Obedience: “How He Promised God”
  4. Ruth Haley Barton: Sacred Rhythms

    • 7. Discernment: Recognizing and Responding to the Presence of God

Continue reading

LEAD! C.10 World-Changing Worship

Standard

In Which We Give Up the World for God, So We Can Give God to the World

Worship is simultaneously the most personal and the most all-encompassing of all human experiences. True worship is to encounter the Divine Presence in the very depths of our being, in a posture of absolute stillness and submission.

Yet such an encounter doesn’t merely empower and inspire us; it also requires us to manifest that same Presence amidst the frenzy and confusion of this present darkness (cf. Ephesians 6:12). Even to those we think least likely to respond…

Memory Verse: “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.””John 4:24 (NKJV)

Assigned Reading
  1. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

    • 11. Worship
  2. Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

    • 5. Worship
    • 6. Evangelism
  3. Eugene Peterson: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

    • 4. Worship: “Let’s Go to the House of God!”
    • 16. Blessing: “Lift Your Praising Hands”

Continue reading

LEAD! C.9 Confrontation and Confession

Standard

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

Continue reading

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.7 Silence and Solitude

Standard

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

Continue reading

LEAD! C.6 Stewardship and Simplicity

Standard

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

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! C.4 Fervent Fasting

Standard

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

Continue reading

LEAD! C.2 Meditation and Memorization

Standard

In Which We Dwell On God’s Word, As It Dwells In Us

The purpose of the disciplines is to bring us into the presence of God, and nothing is more effective for that that deeply meditating upon and memorizing Scripture. In contrast to Eastern meditation — which is about emptying and detachment — Christian meditation is about drawing near to the Father and being filled with His Spirit as we take on the mind of Christ.

Memory Verse: “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”1 Timothy 4:15-16 (NKJV)

Assigned Reading
  1. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

    • Part I. The Inward Disciplines
    • 2. Meditation
  2. Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

    • 3. Bible Intake (Part II)
  3. Eugene Peterson: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

    • 10. Happiness: “Enjoy the Blessing! Revel in the Goodness!”
  4. Ruth Haley Barton: Sacred Rhythms

    • N/A

Continue reading

LEAD! C.1 Desire and Discipline

Standard

In Which Our Desire For God’s Name Inspires Us to Submit To His Discipline

In Part A of this class we began by studying the theological foundations of Christianity, with a focus on what it means to be baptized into the “name” of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Part B we explored what it looks like to appropriate that “name” — God’s character — through the pursuit of wisdom, as contrasted with the simple, mockers, and fools. For Part C, our final module, we will be focusing on Skills for Servant Leaders — the spiritual disciplines necessary to cultivate those virtues in our lives without falling into pride or will-worship.

Our primary text will be Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster, which you are encouraged to supplement with one of the other books listed below. In addition, you are encouraged to actively practice the disciplines as we work through these studies, using tools like the memory verse (below).

However, it is essential to remember that the disciplines are only effective if they are not ends in themselves, but means to our greatest desire, which is Christ Himself…

Memory Verse: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)

Assigned Reading
  1. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline

    • Introduction
    • 1. The Spiritual Disciplines: Door to Liberation
  2. Donald Whitney: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

    • Introduction
    • 1. The Spiritual Disciplines… for the Purpose of Godliness
  3. Eugene Peterson: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

    • Preface
    • 1. Discipleship: “What Makes You Think You Can Race Against Horses?”
  4. Ruth Haley Barton: Sacred Rhythms

    • Introduction
    • 1. Longing for More: An Invitation to Spiritual Transformation

Continue reading

LEAD! B.12 From Shame to Glory

Standard

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

Continue reading

LEAD! B.11 From Gluttony to Self-Control

Standard

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

Continue reading