Last night, the Brookside Institute offered a seminar on "How We Got the Bible." About 50 people signed up for 90 minutes of overview on origins and preservation of the Bible - good stuff! The overarching goal of this seminar was to reinforce trust in the Bible (and its message!) by examining its origin and reliable preservation.
As the Institute seeks to build and reinforce foundations of the Christian faith in the areas of biblical literacy and theological formation, seminars like this play an important role.
Below I've included some things that will give you a taste of the seminar. Here's the "Table of Contents" for what follows in this post if you keep scrolling:
The Value of Spiritual Discipline
A few days ago, Brookside's co-lead pastor, Jeff Dart, preached a sermon championing the value of spiritual discipline in the life of believers. (I encourage you to check it out - click here and scroll down to the sermon preached on Sept 25, 2016, titled "Be Disciplined with Purpose.")
The spiritual disciplines are important enough that the Brookside Institute has devoted one of our classes to this topic - "Grow: An Important Class about Spiritual Formation." This class spends 8 sessions digging into the goal of spiritual formation (godliness) and specific disciplines, practices, or habits that will cultivate godliness in our lives. (Check out what others are saying about the "Grow" class here.)
All that to say: Spiritual disciplines are important. We don't drift into godliness as followers of Jesus Christ; rather, we need to take intentional steps to pursue a lifetime of growth.
Yesterday I was reading a section from Steven D. Boyer's and Christopher A. Hall's Mystery of God: Theology for Knowing the Unknowable, and found this excerpt that further reinforces and explains this value of spiritual discipline.
If someone were to ask me, "What influences have helped you grow most along the path of Christian discipleship?" it wouldn't take me long to answer. Easily, one of my first responses would be "time in the Bible." And not just time in the Bible, but time getting to know the Bible (and its Author!); working to understand and apply its message.
I've talked with others, and have found many that say similar things. Knowing and loving and applying the Bible is that important! This is so much of why I value biblical engagement and theological formation like I do.
And so as I work to help others get into God's Word in such a way that "God's Word gets into them," I understand that for people to spend time in the Bible, we sometimes need to help them first trust the Bible. We need to explain what the Bible is, and show all the great reasons we have to believe that this book is reliable. The Bible really is an authoritative word from God, that He graciously chose to convey through human authors.
I believe this sort of understanding can reinforce motivation to get into the Bible for followers of Christ, and create motivation to get into the Bible for those who are seeking. All of this is why I'm so excited about an Institute seminar I'll be teaching on Thursday evening, September 29 on "How We Got the Bible."
As the Brookside Institute builds and reinforces foundations of the Christian faith, we CAN'T overlook the gospel. It's no overstatement to say you won't have the Christian faith without the gospel (check it out in 1 Corinthians 15:1-19 and Galatians 1:6-9). Keeping the gospel front-and-center is that big of a deal.
Since that's the case, I figured I'd post a sermon I gave last Sunday (9/18/2016) on the centrality of the gospel from Galatians 2:11-21. Here's a brief outline of the sermon:
I've also included the "gospel-shaped behavior" diagram I used when talking about Galatians 2:20 - you'll see that below under the video. (The time stamp of that segment is appx 29:15-33:38.)
The Power of the Gospel from Brookside Church on Vimeo.
Galatians 2:20 - "Gospel -Shaped Behavior" Diagram
Keep reading to see the "gospel-shaped behavior" pictures I drew out on Sunday.
"Curriculum" is a word that makes most people yawn. It might conjure up associations of dated clip art, irrelevant material, canned presentations, and more. But what if all of those things are BAD examples of curriculum? And what if curriculum - properly understood and excellently applied - is valuable and essential?
I've appreciated how James Riley Estep, Jr. draws attention to the valuable role curriculum plays, in Mapping Out Curriculum in Your Church: Cartography for Christian Pilgrims. He's speaking here specifically of the role curriculum plays in the life of a local church:
Anyone who has traveled knows what it is like to rely on a map to guide the way....Maps are also needed to guide us through the journey of faith. We are all pilgrims on a journey. For some, the pilgrimage is new and unknown. For others, the path is familiar. Identifying desirable destinations, pathways that have proven beneficial, and providing a means of navigation along the way are all part of the church's cartography, its mapmaking. Curriculum is a congregation's map though the process of discipleship, providing disciples, new and old, with the means to continue on their way toward Christlikeness, and the Christian educator is the cartographer" (pp. 1-2, bold emphasis added).
A little further along Estep continues:
When one fully appreciates the broad concept of curriculum, its critical importance to the congregation's ministry becomes self-evident. The curriculum provides the pathway for believers to grow toward Christian maturity. What do believers have to know, experience, and be able to do so as to mature? What do they need along the way to guarantee their continued spiritual growth? With whom should they travel the journey of faith? The curriculum answers these questions, and gives the believer some direction, some proven paths to travel, so they are not lost along the journey of faith, wandering without direction. Curriculum is a tool of the education ministry to provide for the spiritual formation of believers (p. 2, bold emphasis added).
All of this is why I'm passionate about catechesis, and about the Brookside Institute providing a relatively systematic and comprehensive grounding in core truths of the Christian faith. But these quotes also apply more broadly across ministries of the church - curriculum is simply an intentional way to guide others towards biblical objectives of being a disciple. Good stuff!
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