The function of the Spirit
Is to bring the Word
Into the World
The function of the Spirit
The function of the Spirit
Is to bring the Word
Into the World
Perhaps like you, I had subconsciously assumed that Fruit meant I was feeling more love, joy, peace, etc. But once I reimagined Fruit as “experiences we give others that contain the seed of Christ,” I started to get really excited.
For three reasons: Revival, Metrics, and CounterFruit.Continue reading
Question: Why did God place us in a world full of brokenness and pain?
Perspective: So we could share in the glory that only comes from becoming more like Jesus.Continue reading
This week on The Great Reset, we invite you to learn along with us as we try out a new practice of being cooperatively taught by God.
Question: How do we shift from intellectually studying God’s word to humbly obeying it?
Perspective: By submitting ourselves to be Discipled By Scripture together to Love More Like Jesus (“LMLJ”)Continue reading
In order of appearance
I see a locked door. In a dark and scary place, like a monster movie. Big, iron, with crisscrossed chains and padlocks.
Natalie walks up holding a flashlight. Monk trails behind nervously.
Suddenly Stottlemeyer steps in front of them. His eyes are bloodshot, as if he has been drinking, crying, or not sleeping. Perhaps all three. He is holding his gun in two shaky hands. Pointed at them.
“I warned you not to come here,” he rasps in a hoarse voice.
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!
Spiritual Maturity: Thanks
God made all of us on purpose. We are happy when we obey that purpose. We become happier the better we understand and live out that purpose.
We share many purposes with other people, because God made us the same:
Joy is happiness of the spirit. It is the deepest and most important kind of happiness. But there are two very different ways our spirits can be happy.
Holiness: Open to God
Lots of people admire Jesus. Even those who aren’t Christians often consider him a model for how human beings should treat each other.
Last time we talked about skills that help us become more like Jesus. So why doesn’t everyone practice those skills? Why do we ourselves often do the opposite of what Jesus wants us to do?
Because we have a wound in our spirit.
I need your help.
Please fill me with your Holy Spirit.
Teach me self-control.
Show me your love, joy, peace & patience.
Help me be a kind, good, gentle and faithful friend.
I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.
Inspired by Galatians 5.
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)
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)
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)
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…
In Which Our Character is Conformed to God’s Name, Via The Pursuit of Wisdom
In our first twelve-week series on Theological Foundations, we focused on what it means to be “baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit“, moving from sin to sanctification as the body of Christ entering into His Kingdom.
In this our second series, we focus on how we can appropriate that “name” in our own lives — as well as those of the people we lead and serve. This is the essence of Christian Character, the second leg of our “LEAD” tripod (the third and final one being “Skills for Service”, coming in Spring 2009).
The goal of character formation is to bring our “whole person” into alignment with the “whole name” of God — His identity, character, and purpose. We can define the whole person using the “triplet” model below, which has:
In Which Jesus Sends the Comforter, and We Are Convicted By Him
This week we move from the Father and the Son to the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. This also continues our theme of God restoring His Image by saving us from our rebellion. And as usual, there is a heavy price to be paid…
[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.
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]