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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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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Becoming a Whole Christian

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I want to be a Whole Christian.

I want to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength, and be part of a worshipping community with others who do.

I want to love my brothers and sisters the way Christ loves me,
my neighbor as myself,
and my enemies.

Especially my enemies.  For I have discovered that I only see the log in my own eye after I find grace for the speck in someone else’s.

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LEAD! C.10 World-Changing Worship

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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”

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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.4 Fervent Fasting

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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

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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.7 From Envy to Submission

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In Which We Submit To Our Place in God’s Creation, And Are Commended By Him

“Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.” — Matthew 5:4

Envy is a close cousin to greed, though greed focuses on the thing desired while envy on the person who currently has it. It has been called the most miserable sin, since it doesn’t cause even temporary pleasure to those who commit it!

Envy can be defined as resenting those who possess what we crave. In contrast, mourners have processed the painful truth that this life will never fulfill our deepest longings. But as we submit to our place in God’s created order, we receive what the wise crave most: the comfort of His divine presence.

Assigned Reading
  1. Peter Kreeft: Back to Virtue

    • 9. Blessed Mourner vs. Mourner at Others’ Blessedness (Envy)
  2. Dick Hockett: Foundations of Wisdom
    • 3.6 (Modest) Example: Proverbs about the Tongue

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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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Twelve Steps to Arrow-Proof Your Ministry

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Apologies for the pretentious title, but I wanted to challenge myself to identify and reorganize the lessons we covered in last year’s leadership class into a coherent prescription for facing down “Ministry Killers”. The idea is that each of these “steps” would be a single “life lesson”, but that together they provide the “full armor of God.

What do you think? Did I miss anything important?

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The Oatmeal of Shame (A Parable)

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Now, the first thing you need to realize is that oatmeal is part of my life. Not a big part, or a hugely important one, but a regular part. It is a central focus of my morning routine, right up there with coffee. I’m not religious about it — when I go out, I’m more likely to have an omelette — but if I’m home I’ll have oatmeal.

That isn’t meant as an excuse, or any sort of justification for how I reacted. I’m just trying to give you some context, to help you understand what happened, and what it might mean. These are the raw ingredients; what you make of them is up to you. Kind of like oatmeal itself.

Click [Read More] to experience what may well be the silliest parable you’ll ever read. Even if it was ‘just’ a dream — and one God used to clarify my life purpose.

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Song: Ephesian Covenant (I am God)

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As mentioned earlier, I’ve been looking to write a new song to express what I’m learning about God’s fatherhood. However, I couldn’t figure out where to start. Then, last week while visiting San Francisco with my brother’s family — we stayed at the Radisson Inn on Fisherman’s Wharf — I woke up at midnight. I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I started thinking (fruitlessly) about this song. I finally complained to God about the block, when He basically said, “ask me.” So, I got up and went into the bathroom, and this is what I felt God had to say to me:

I am God
I am the source of all you seek
I will hold you when you’re weak
I have died to give you life
I will take you as my wife
Share your pain
Heal your sins
Be your God

[Read More] for the complete song. The rest I can perhaps claim to have written, but the chorus (however imperfectly recorded) was given to me.

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